The demands of a seven-game opening round series and immediate progress to the conference semifinals left the Seattle Kraken in need of a break.
An extra day off proved wonderful for the playoff newcomers.
Jordan Eberle unleashed a five-goal second-period outburst with his fourth goal of the playoffs, Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves, and the Kraken beat the Dallas Stars 7-2 Sunday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semi final.
“We’ve been going here every other day since the playoffs started,” Eberle said. “So you have a couple of days off, not just for your body but for your mind as well.”
Seven different Seattle players scored and 12 different players collected a point as the rejuvenated Kraken took control of the series.
Eberle started it all as the recipient of an unfortunate rebound, striking Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger at 2:10 of the second period after the puck hit Stars defensive back Miro Heiskanen in the face and landed on Eberle’s stick.
That was just the beginning. Alex Wennberg doubled the lead 1:26 after Eberle’s goal; Carson Soucy became Seattle’s 16th different scorer this postseason, beating Oettinger at five holes at 6:30; and Matty Beniers made it 4-0 at 8:22.
Seattle’s first four shots of the period beat Oettinger, and the Kraken made it 5-1 when Eeli Tolvanen finished a rebound with 37 seconds left in the period.
“We wanted to start early. I think that’s why the physical game helped us and then after our first period we realized we were fresh, we had some momentum and then we took it and ran in the second,” Soucy said.
It was the second time in three games of the series that Oettinger had surrendered five goals after Dallas lost the opener 5-4 in overtime. Oettinger gave up four goals in the first period of Game 1 and Seattle became the first team this postseason to score five times in a single period.
Oettinger made 12 saves on 17 shooting and was replaced for the third period by backup Scott Wedgewood. Wedgewood was met with a short-handed run from Seattle and Yanni Gourde’s third playoff goal on the Kraken’s first pitch of the third period. Justin Schultz added a seventh for Seattle with 2:30 left on the power play.
Race 4 is Tuesday night.
“They went out and played tough tonight. We probably deserved what we got,” said Dallas’ Jamie Benn. “They were the starving team.”
It’s the second straight series that the Stars split the first two games at home only to lose in Game 3. Dallas lost 5-1 to Minnesota in Game 3 in the opening round before winning the final three games of the series .
“I think the good news is that it really mirrors our Game 3 in Minnesota. We were in exactly the same spot and played pretty much the same game,” said Dallas coach Pete DeBoer. “We answered it right in that series and we need to make sure that happens here.”
Equally concerning to the Stars was Heiskanen, who was left bloody on his left cheek from the puck to his face and did not return to the game. Tye Kartye’s original shot appeared to deflect off Ryan Suter’s stick and Heiskanen wasn’t prepared for the rebound.
DeBoer said the score played a role in the decision not to bring Heiskanen back, but didn’t provide clarity on his availability for Game 4.
Meanwhile, Grubauer was again excellent for Seattle. Mason Marchment put Dallas up 4-1 late in the second period, finishing a half off Evgenii Dadonov, but Grubauer was very good the rest of the period with fast break saves from Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, and a lunging save with his wall on a deflected puck that appeared to go over his head and towards the net.
Jani Hakanpää scored his first of the playoffs with 13 minutes remaining.
“That team at the other end can score and they can score in clusters, and their veteran presence can find momentum in those situations, so (Grubauer) was key in those moments for us,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said .
According to the NHL, the Kraken are the fifth team in the past 25 years to have 16 different players score in the first 10 games of a single postseason. That group doesn’t include Jared McCann, who led Seattle with 40 goals in the regular season but was out of Game 4 of the opening round with injury.
CLOCK PARTY CANCELED
The Stars canceled a scheduled watch party during Sunday’s game in the plaza outside their home arena. This is less than 30 miles from a Texas outlet store where an assailant killed eight people on Saturday. The Stars said they canceled the watch party outside the American Airlines Center out of respect for Allen’s victims, families and community.