The Seattle Kraken are officially into cliché territory because they all apply now:
Do or die, backs against the wall, no tomorrow.
They will have to respond to keep their season alive after a 5-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars, a game that was much closer than the score indicated in game five before 18,532 fans on Thursday at American Airlines Center.
The Stars took a 3-2 series lead, putting the Kraken into “must win” mode to avoid elimination, starting Saturday in game six. If they win, game seven will be Monday in Dallas. If Dallas wins, they will advance to the Conference Final to play the winner of the Vegas vs. Edmonton series.
“It’s far from over,” said defenseman Adam Larsson, who scored in back-to-back games and generated a Kraken rally in the second period.
Jared McCann earned his first career playoff goal, in his second game back from injury, while Dallas’ top line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski combined for eight points. Hintz scored twice and earned an assist.
“I don’t think we need to cheerlead inside our dressing room,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Our determination is going to have to be really good offensively, because you have to assume they’ll have the same type of stiff defensive effort tonight.”
Dallas’ goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped 29 shots, while Grubauer took his second straight loss in the series with 16 saves.
1. Short circuited runs cost the Kraken dearly. The Kraken fell behind early but generated 15 minutes of sustained pressure to end the period. They were so close in the third period, with approximately nine minutes of sustained pressure in the Stars zone. That entire period: zero goals. It’s comparable in baseball to loading the bases with nobody out, and stranding every runner with no runs. It wound up costing the Kraken, who could have either gained a late first period goal to turn momentum in their favor, or the ultimate “momentum swinger” with a game tying goal. Dallas would score twice shortly after those runs ended, providing the Stars with enough breathing room to put game five away.
2. Star power took over for Dallas. For much of this series, the Stars questions with their depth surrounded the lack of production with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, with no goals heading into game four. That’s when Joe Pavelski joined their line, known in Dallas as the “Avengers,” and they cooked up eight combined points in game five to cancel out the trademark depth that’s carried the Kraken all season long. The Stars top line was difficult to beat, they have found a rhythm, and will now be on high alert for a defensive target in game six.
3. The Kraken need a big start in game six. Getting it on home ice helps, where they will have the crowd and noise behind them if they can generate offense and momentum, similar to game three. But scoring first in every game put the odds in their favor for a seven game series win against Colorado, and has been an imperative formula on home ice in both wins – game four against the Avalanche in the first round, and game three against the Stars in the second round. When teams get to “season is on the line” status, a good start with a 1-0 lead in the first period goes a long way, especially in this postseason where the Kraken are 5-3 when scoring first, and the Stars are 0-3 when the opposing team scores first.
Game six will be 4pm PT in Seattle on Saturday (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network), at Climate Pledge Arena.