The clock read 0.7 seconds.
That’s how much time the Seattle Kraken needed to wrap up a must-win game against the Dallas Stars.
It wasn’t enough, but it wasn’t the death blow.
Joey Daccord, pressed into starting duties just 24 hours after a call-up from the American Hockey League, made 25 saves while Adam Larsson scored at 1:52 to rescue the Kraken in a heart-pounding, plot-twisting finish, thwarting a shocking Stars comeback and sealing a 5-4 victory in overtime before 18,532 raucous fans at American Airlines Center on Tuesday, giving the Kraken their sixth straight win on the road but more importantly – pace in their pursuit of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
“Even to the end, I thought we believed,” said Larsson, who also led the Kraken with seven blocked shots.
“Sometimes we tend to get a little too emotional and too excited, but tonight we stayed pretty even keeled. We were in it until the end, and it ended being a happy night.”
Winnipeg, Nashville, and Calgary – three teams beneath the Kraken in hot pursuit of two additional spots – all won. The Kraken maintained grip on the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, six points clear of a playoff berth with 12 games to play.
“We played hard tonight, we played hard all the way through the game,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“When you give up those two at the end, pretty disappointing. But we went out and found a way to win it in overtime.”
The Kraken never trailed but struggled to shake the Stars, who miraculously rallied out of a 4-2 deficit in the final 3:26 on a pair of extra attacker goals, even with a goal scored by Ty Dellandrea negated for goaltender interference. Joe Pavelski’s 20th of the season, a deflection at the net, cut the deficit to 4-3 and Jamie Benn, who viciously cross-checked Vince Dunn to gain space during a violent goal mouth scramble, found enough time and a loose puck to tie the game in stunning fashion with 0.7 seconds left.
“The demeanor of our bench didn’t change,” said Hakstol. “Settling in is a trait of ours.”
McCann hit Larsson with a long tape-to-tape feed, who beat Jake Oettinger to the stick side off the rush and send the Kraken to celebrate, spilling off the bench.
“Those are the kind of plays you need at this time of year,” said Hakstol.
Brandon Tanev scored twice and added an assist, Daniel Sprong came back into the lineup to score his 17thgoal of the season, and Jared McCann earned his 34th goal of the season on the Kraken side. Miro Heiskanen, and Wyatt Johnston also scored for Dallas.
1. The fourth line was insane. On brand Kraken hockey isn’t a one-line 18-wheeler. It’s a four-headed monster delivering moderate production per player, but amounting to a tidal wave of offense that leads the entire NHL in five-on-five goals. They got more of it on Tuesday night, hanging five goals on the Stars and Jake Oettinger which isn’t the easiest of tasks. McCann had a hand in the offense for his Kraken-leading 34th goal, but the fourth line of Tanev, Morgan Geikie and Sprong was absolutely brilliant – combining for six points and three of the five goals that were scored. Geekie won four of six face-offs.
“They really provided good minutes for us,” said Hakstol. “They were a real important group for us.”
The crazy part: Geekie and Sprong were deployed for a smidge over nine minutes apiece – lowest ice time for the entire Kraken roster. But, efficiency is their game, and the Kraken were at their best with their tenacity taking control when they needed it.
2. Joey Daccord delivered. This assignment was daunting for Daccord, having a spectacular AHL season but with scant experience in “the show.” He only had one NHL win all season, two wins in 15 career NHL games, and the Kraken needed five goals to get it done at Calgary on November 1. Same here tonight, but Daccord was dialed in with a tough workload. The Stars threw 60 shots toward him and required to make a save 29 times. None of the goals he allowed, through screens and an open net attempt, were his fault. One even bounced off the boards and his mask. It was a ricochet fit for a Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird “h-o-r-s-e” commercial.
“He was great back there tonight,” said Tanev. “He made some incredible saves – he was big for us playing the puck, making it easy for our defensemen.”
This was exhibit A in “next man up” play. With the Kraken unable to suit up an ill Philipp Grubauer and refusing to play Martin Jones, Daccord handled his assignment from the minor leagues like a poised veteran, only with a 24-hour turnaround. He was called up during a Kraken pit stop in Coachella Valley and jumped on the plane to Dallas. A big glove saves on Benn in the second period punctuated his busiest workload. Rarely was he ever showing signs of distress. It went a long way to giving the Kraken ample security to play their game and build a lead with confidence.
3. Wanna play in round 1? Get your heart meds. This is a two-part “pros and cons” to facing the Dallas Stars in the first round. It could happen. Want to feel good about this? The Kraken could have easily taken two out of three in this series. They could have easily won both of those games in regulation. They hung with the Dallas Stars, punch for punch, while battling through their lone road game at Dallas like it was a normal day at the office. They had depth. Without goaltending, the score could have been worse. They are a worthy opponent for the Stars if the regular season tells us anything.
“We’re in the latter half of the season and we want to be playing our best hockey at the end of the season,” said Tanev.
Want to know an ugly truth? The regular season also tells us, "throw all the records out.” The Stars have postseason polish, reached the Cup Final three years ago, and gave the Flames fits in a seven-game first round series in which they lost and served as Jake Oettinger’s arrival party. They have skilled, refined, and relentless veterans in Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn who played a role in rescuing the Stars from defeat with extra attacker goals, including Benn’s near buzzer beater on Tuesday with 0.7 seconds left. They lead the NHL with eight extra attacker goals (at six-on-five). The Kraken have allowed eight extra attacker goals (at six-on-five). Only the Kings (9) have given up more. If you want to dance with the Stars, you’ve got to learn how to put them away, and do it in a best-of-seven tussle that will be sure to test your anxiety level.
KRAKEN LINEUP AT DALLAS, 3/21: