The Seattle Kraken took control of their Round 2 series against the Dallas Stars by scoring a touchdown, and adding on an extra point, defending home ice in a 7-2 Game 3 victory. They were able to find the pace they wanted to play at and establish their game, and naturally, the offense followed.
While Jared McCann has been back skating with the team, Daniel Sprong appears to have fallen to injury. He left the bench after spending 6:36 time on ice (TOI), all at even strength, and didn’t return. For the Stars, Miro Heiskanen also departed the game after taking a deflected shot to the face, which led to Jordan Eberle’s opening goal, and didn’t return.
For both of these players, it could’ve been a result of the score. Heiskanen departed when the score was 1-0, but the Kraken totaled four goals in 6:12, so by the time he may have been ready to return, it may not have been worth pushing him. For Sprong, he didn’t return for the third period, at which point the score was 5-1.
You all know the drill at this point, three takeaways and some Seattle Shoutouts. That game was definitely a meal, so consider this dessert and dive on in.
Philipp Grubauer Bounced Back
The Kraken trailed for the entirety of Game 2 against the Stars. It was the third time in the postseason that Grubauer allowed at least four goals, and he finished with a .892 save percentage (SV%). In each of those games, he faced a minimum of 33 shots. Personally, I didn’t blame him too heavily for the loss. The Kraken were out-chanced and out-high-danger chanced at 5-on-5 in every period, yet he still managed 33 saves.
Game 3 saw Grubauer bounce back exactly the way the Kraken needed him to. Honestly, it could be a huge sign of his bounce-back ability for the remainder of the playoffs. He was perfect on three opposing power-play opportunities, making six total saves, and finished the game stopping 24-of-26 shots for a .923 SV%. He was named the game’s second star.
A Galaxy of Goals
For the second time in the series, there was an avalanche of goals in a single period (thanks for that one, Adam Kierszenblat). In the first period of Game 1, six goals were scored with four being scored by the Kraken. In the second period of Game 3, they matched it with another six total goals being scored. However this time, the Kraken put five into the back of the net. Not only did they score first, again, but they became the first team this postseason to score five goals in a period.
Related: 3 Takeaways From Kraken’s 5-4 Game 1 OT Win Over Stars
Surprise, surprise, the goals came courtesy of five different goalscorers throughout the lineup, including a defenseman with Carson Soucy’s five-hole tally. Matty Beniers scored a goal and an assist, but more on him later. Alex Wennberg, Eeli Tolvanen and Eberle (now scoring in three straight games) rounded out the Kraken goal scorers. Mason Marchment scored the lone tally of the period for the Stars.
Interestingly, the Stars had both more scoring chances and more high-danger chances at 5-on-5 in the second period than the Kraken. They also won the scoring chances battle 12-7, and the high-danger chances battle 5-3, according to Natural Stat Trick. Yet, the Kraken walked away with a 5-1 lead. As they say quite frequently in this glorious sport; they don’t ask how, they ask how many.
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I have to give credit for this section’s heading to my day-job co-worker Jason Kahn, but all credit for the goals goes to the Kraken’s depth and ability to ride momentum throughout their lineup. Not only are they seeing scoring from up and down the roster, but they score in bunches. You can literally see it build, even in games where they’re losing; once they cut down on allowing response goals they’ve really been able to build off of even a single goal. In two instances now in this series, we’ve seen what can happen when the Kraken are swimming at full momentum and playing to their strengths and chemistry at full force.
Kraken Released Their Grip, But Shut the Door
One thing I want to highlight is the Kraken’s own responses to goals against. They found themselves up big in the game, 4-0 in the second period, when Marchment scored. Yet, they didn’t allow another goal for the remainder of the period. In fact, Tolvanen’s goal came at 19:21 of the period, followed by Yanni Gourde’s third of the playoffs 1:49 into the third period. To me, that looks like momentum carrying over that may not have been there if they allowed another one following Marchment’s goal.
While Jani Hakanpää scored a little over five minutes after Gourde did in the third period, it was the Kraken that got the last laugh. Justin Schultz scored his third of the playoffs at 17:30 to put the final nail in the coffin, and the extra point through the uprights.
This may have been Matty Beniers’ breakout game of the postseason. My (totally unbiased) pick for the Calder Memorial Trophy scored a goal and an assist, was a plus-3, tallied a hit, three shots and three takeaways. He spent 14:59 TOI including 2:22 shorthanded and 1:08 on the power play. The only thing I’d like to see out of him is an improvement in the faceoff dot. He was noticeable every time he was on the ice, and was named the game’s first star.
Schultz definitely gets a shoutout because I feel like the overall team success has overshadowed his consistent play. He finished their Round 1 series with a goal and four assists, and started the series on a four-game point streak. Last night, he tallied a goal and an assist, giving him two goals and three points in Round 2. My views on Schultz coming into the season were that he was a good second offensive option on the blue line in case Vince Dunn was overwhelmed on the top pair. Well, consider this a mea culpa as I need to give Schultz the respect he deserves. The further the Kraken go into the playoffs, the more important his two-time Cup-winning veteran presence will be.
One final shoutout goes to the Kraken defensive corps. They all tallied at least two blocked shots, with Jamie Oleksiak leading the way by stopping four (along with six hits). The Kraken won the shot-blocking battle 21-14.
Short-Term Vision for Long-Term Gain
The Kraken run it back at Climate Pledge Arena for Game 4 on Tuesday, May 9, following the Carolina Hurricanes/New Jersey Devils’ Game 4. I don’t have much to say with this one; they should expect a response, a better effort, and need to get started early. The Kraken need to do their best to emulate this performance in order to take a stranglehold on the series heading into Game 5.