Game 7: Can Kraken come through again to make West finals?
May 14, 2023, 10:46 AM | Updated: May 15, 2023, 8:15 pm
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Stars coach Pete DeBoer says he will take a Game 7 at home any day of the week. He has another one Monday night, though his first with Dallas. The Seattle Kraken, in their first postseason, are already playing their second Game 7 on the road.
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“I think pressure is going to be on both teams,” said Kraken forward Jordan Eberle, who had two goals in their 6-3 win Saturday night. “I think for us, we’ve obviously been through this as a group once.”
The NHL’s lone playoff game Monday between the Stars and Kraken will be only the fourth Game 7 in the league this postseason. There were five Game 7s in the first round last year, then no more in those playoffs.
In the only game Sunday night, Vegas won 5-2 at Edmonton to wrap up the other West series in six games. The Golden Knights will have home ice for the Western Conference Final against Dallas or Seattle.
While the West still had one more series unsettled, the East Conference Final matchup was already set after the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers both wrapped up their second-round series in five games.
DeBoer has won all six of his previous Game 7s, which came with three different teams. Five of those wins were at home, with the other in the 2020 playoffs during the pandemic in the NHL’s bubble in Canada.
“The reason you play all season is to have home ice in a Game 7 like this, and we’ve earned that,” DeBoer said. “Hopefully we’ll use that to our benefit.”
His first with the Stars will come exactly one year after their 3-2 overtime loss in Game 7 at Calgary.
Jake Oettinger had 64 saves in that game against the Flames before Johnny Gaudreau’s OT goal ended the first-round series. The 24-year-old Stars goalie gave up four goals on 18 shots Saturday before he was pulled 4 1/2 minutes into the second period — he is 4-0 after losses this postseason.
“We didn’t give him any help, and this is a grind,” DeBoer said. “At that point, we’re looking for a spark for the team, looking down the road to make sure Jake’s got (energy), the fresher goalie for Game 7. All those things come into play.”
Seattle forward Jaden Schwartz is 5-0 in Game 7s in his career, including wins with St. Louis over Dallas in 2016 and 2019.
The Kraken wrapped up their opening round with a Game 7 win at Colorado, when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored both goals and Yanni Gourde assisted on both, to eliminate last year’s Stanley Cup champion.
“I’m sure there’s some things that we can apply, but this is a different series,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “Not only are we playing an opponent that has great players, high-end guys at the top of their lineup, but their depth is good. … A little bit different look going into Game 7.”
Joe Pavelski has eight goals against Seattle, already a Stars franchise record for a single playoff series. No NHL player has scored more goals in a single postseason at age 38 or older.
His 72 career postseason goals are the most by a U.S.-born player. That matches Alex Ovechkin for the most among active players, and 14th on the all-time list.
The 38-year-old Pavelski will play in his 10th career Game 7 — only nine active players have appeared in that many. It is his third with Dallas.
GRUB’S GAME 7s
Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer, who stopped 20 shots on Saturday, was spectacular in the clincher against the Avalanche with 34 saves.
In his only other Game 7, Grubauer was Colorado’s goalie in the 2019 playoffs and had 27 saves in a 3-2 loss in the second round at San Jose, when DeBoer was the Sharks coach and Pavelski their captain. The winning goalie that game was Martin Jones, now Grubauer’s backup in Seattle.
STARS IN SEVEN
The last Game 7 for the Stars was during the second round of 2020 playoffs in the NHL bubble, when Joel Kiviranti had a hat trick after scoring 7 1/2 minutes into overtime against Colorado. The secondary assist on the game-winner came from Jamie Oleksiak, who Seattle got in the expansion draft two years ago.
Dallas’ last Game 7 at home was during the second round in 2016, when St. Louis scored three goals in the first period and won 6-1. Those two teams went the distance again in the second round in 2019, when the Blues won 2-1 in double OT at home on way to winning the Stanley Cup.
Saturday: Not Done Yet – Seattle Kraken beat Stars 6-3 to force Game 7