The Dallas Stars may have dominated parts of Game 3 of their second-round matchup with the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. However, the home team collected seven goals to take a 2-1 series lead, setting up a must-win situation for the Stars on Tuesday night.
After a lackluster performance, the Stars came out with a spark in their game, holding the Kraken to a single goal and ten shots through 40 minutes. Meanwhile, their impact players came to play, tallying five goals and chasing Phillipp Grubauer after two periods.
Related: 4 Stars Players Who Must Step Up in Pivotal Game 4
Now that each team has won two games and this Round 2 matchup becomes the best of three, the momentum and home-ice advantage is in the Stars’ favor. Here are four takeaways from their 6-3 win in Game 4.
Jamie Benn Leads On the Ice and the Scoresheet
Although the Stars were not on the verge of being eliminated, a loss in Game 4 would have been crippling to their chances of prolonging the series and advancing another round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Interestingly, with his team looking for a spark, Stars’ captain Jamie Benn opened the scoring in this contest, notching just his second goal of the playoffs.
Even though he’s not a prolific goal scorer like Jason Robertson or Tyler Seguin, Benn has routinely scored 30 goals with 55 game winners on his resume. As the leader in the dressing room and on the ice, he’s been a great set-up guy, winning faceoffs and making passes that lead to goals. Last night, he started the rally with an early power-play goal, snapping a man-advantage skid in which the Stars have found themselves since the beginning of the second round.
Outside of Max Domi’s three-point night, Benn had a goal and an assist while leading the team in penalty minutes. Even though he’s not flashy, he led his team into battle on Tuesday and helped guide them to a much-needed win.
Max Domi Ties Career Best Playoff Game Point Total
In 33 playoff games before Tuesday night, Domi had only three occasions where he tallied three points in a game. Moreover, he tied a career-high with three points in Game 4, thanks to two goals and an assist, leading the Stars’ offensive attack in a 6-3 win. Even though he had a three-assist game against the Minnesota Wild in Round 1, some could argue that his performance in this must-win situation was one of his best nights in a Stars’ uniform.
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Although the Kraken challenged his first goal for goalie interference, his empty net tally at the end was never in doubt, leaving him with a perfect shooting percentage (2/2) for the night. Furthermore, he took a single penalty in the second period, bringing his series total to 12 minutes, a drastic decline from a team-high 26 in the opening round.
Even though Domi brings some grit to the lineup, he is offensively gifted, and the Stars could win many more games when he plays a clean game and contributes on the scoresheet rather than sit in the penalty box.
Stars Power Play is Clicking (Again)
The announcers pointed out that the Stars were unstoppable on the man advantage in the first round, collecting nine power-play goals, ranking as the second-best team in the playoffs behind the Edmonton Oilers. However, the magic they once possessed didn’t continue against the Kraken, as the Stars struggled with limited power-play opportunities, producing a single goal on nine chances through three games.
Eventually, the team ranked among the best in the entire league for most of the regular season, would regain its groove, which happened in Game 4. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, special teams goals can be a backbreaker and disrupt any momentum an opponent may have in their favor. After struggling to get anything going, the Stars erupted for two power-play goals on three opportunities, giving them a 1-0 and 4-0 lead. Ultimately, timely goals from veterans Benn and Joe Pavelski set the Stars up for success on the night by opening the scoring and eventually putting the game out of reach.
This Stars and Kraken Series Has Potential to Go the Distance
The Stars built a comfortable 4-0 lead before the Kraken scored their first goal at the game’s midway point. Even though it was only a single tally, the Stars kept pressing and made it a 5-1 contest heading into the third period, which saw the Kraken play Martin Jones for the final 20 minutes.
Instead of playing the entire game, Grubauer had some time off to watch the game from the bench and mentally prepare for Game 5 on Thursday. Having a break worked out for Jake Oettinger, who followed a poor performance in Game 3 with a solid effort on Tuesday to help tie the series. Considering both starting netminders are some of the best left still playing, they can keep goalscorers off the board, prolonging this series any way they can.
Related: 4 Reasons Why the Dallas Stars Will Win the Stanley Cup
Realistically, this second-round matchup will likely go the distance until a team can string together two consecutive wins. Despite being down by four goals in Game 4, the Kraken kept coming, and no matter how much the Stars dominated the pace of play for lengthy stretches, Seattle fought until the end. Ultimately, this could be one of the most challenging series to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game 5 of the Stars and Kraken takes place Thursday at 7:30 pm EST.