Kraken score four goals on four shots in 2nd period, beat Stars 7-2 to take series lead

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 7: The Seattle Kraken celebrate a goal by Eeli Tolvanen #20 during the second period against the Dallas Stars in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Climate Pledge Arena on May 7, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken scored four goals on four consecutive shots in the second period as part of a dominant performance in a 7-2 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 3 on Sunday night.

Jordan Eberle, Alex Wennberg, Carson Soucy and Matty Beniers scored in a span of just over six minutes to seize command of the game as Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger was picked apart by the Kraken attack. Soucy became the 16th different goalscorer of the playoffs for Seattle in the process as their scoring depth continues to be the team's defining characteristic.

"It's huge," Soucy said of the depth. "It's just a testament of kind of how we got here in the first place. We had some really good stretches throughout the regular season where everyone was contributing. We kind of just built off that and we know that's our game. So we get four lines going, fuor lines skating and then we're hard to play against."

Eeli Tolvanen added a goal late in the second period and Justin Schultz added a power play goal in the third. Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves on 26 shots in the victory for Seattle as they grabbed a 2-1 series lead. 

Scott Wedgewood replaced Oettinger in goal for the third period after Oettinger allowed five goals on 17 shots on the night for Dallas.

"You get one in your own building and the crowd just starts going nuts," Beniers said. "You get some real momentum, get on your toes. The other team is sitting back a little bit. Obviously, it's tough, and then you just start popping them in."

The Kraken looked much refreshed from the extra off day between Games 2 and 3.

Soucy leveled Mason Marchment with a hit in the neutral zone just over two minutes into the game as Seattle's physicality returned after a sluggish Game 2. The Kraken out-hit the Stars by a 15-3 margin in the opening period as they attempted to reestablish their forecheck.

"I think we upped our physical game a little game, and obviously just kind of smarter with it too. We know it's round two, kind of every game gets a little more intense, so we wanted to be the initiators tonight," Soucy said.

The Kraken created several strong scoring chances in the opening period. Eberle drove the net and passed the puck across the crease just out of the reach of a crashing Jamie Oleksiak. 

Morgan Geekie had two strong shots on Oettinger off the forecheck and Tolvanen added another great look off a feed from behind the net by Yanni Gourde. Seattle had five shots on net over the final 2:43 of the period.

Will Borgen had a key diving block on a pass from Radek Faksa intended for Ty Dellandrea on a two-on-one chance. However, the Kraken kept most of Dallas' shots to the perimeter and came up with 10 blocks in the period as the game was scoreless at the break.

When they returned to the ice, the Kraken were primed to explode.

A Tye Kartye shot deflected off the stick of Ryan Suter and up into the face of Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The blow dropped Heiskanen to the ice, but Eberle found the loose puck in front of the net and beat Oettinger to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.

Heiskanen was bloodied from the impact of the puck to his jaw and had to head to the locker room. He did not return to the game for Dallas. It was a massive blow for the Stars as Heiskanen is one of the NHL's top defensemen.

Dallas head coach Peter DeBoer said that Heiskanen "would have liked to come back" to the game after receiving medical attention. However, the lopsided score played a hand in the decision to hold him out the rest of the night.

The Kraken didn't waste the opportunity with Heiskanen out of the lineup.

Less than 90 seconds after Eberle's goal, Vince Dunn delivered a perfect stretch pass from the defensive zone to Jaden Schwartz at the offensive blue line. Alex Wennberg then ripped a shot through the glove side of Oettinger off a Schwartz pass for a 2-0 Kraken advantage.

Soucy then scored his first goal of the playoffs just under three minutes later. Soucy caught Marchment out of position and skated around him to get in clean on Oettinger. He snapped a shot between Oettinger's legs for a 3-0 Seattle lead.

Beniers made it 4-0 Kraken with a snap shot through Oettinger's stick side from the left circle as Climate Pledge Arena roared in approval.

Four shots. Four goals. And a decisive Kraken advantage.

"Yeah, the crowd's awesome. We wanted to get into it early," Soucy said. Obviously. I think that's why the physical play helped us. And after the first period, we kind of realized, you know, we're fresh, we've got some momentum and then we just took it and ran in the second."

Oettinger will want several of the goals back. Per, Oettinger was -2.95 goals saved above expected on the night. The goals from Wennberg, Soucy and Beniers are all saves he is capable of executing.

"It’s not like we were playing great, and Jake was letting in goals,’’ DeBoer said. "I thought our whole group was off tonight. What didn’t give me cause for concern? We didn’t stop the bleeding. We gave up all kinds of opportunities. We should be able to handle adversity better than that.’’

Marchement got one back for Dallas late in the period as he fired a one-timer by Grubauer off a three-on-one off a turnover at the Seattle blue line.

But with less than a minute remaining in the period, the Kraken struck again. Ryan Donato drove the net and had a pass across the crease deflected. Oettinger tried to move the puck away with his stick and blocker only to have it go directly to Eeli Tolvanen for a rebound finish and a 5-1 Kraken lead.

Despite the offensive onslaught, Grubauer had to come up with several key saves as well. A rush chance from Roope Hintz and two big stops on Jason Robertson chances helped Seattle sustain the momentum without allowing Dallas back into the contest. 

"I mean, they had a lot of opportunities as well," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "We gave up way too much off of transition and not taking care of the puck. But the positive is, you know, the things that we did offensively and executed and found a way to build that lead, you know, it's a huge positive at that time of game coming out of a tight first period."

Then in the third period, the first shot Wedgewood faced all night also ended up in the net. With the Stars on a power play after a Wennberg tripping penalty, Brandon Tanev pressured Suter into a turnover to create a short-handed chance. Yanni Gourde ripped a Tanev pass by Wedgewood for the sixth goal of the night and a 6-1 advantage.

The Kraken scored goals on six of their first 18 shots in the game.

"Obviously, they've got a pretty outstanding goalie over there, a guy who can stop the puck and can change games," Eberle said. "So I mean, you know, anytime you get a couple that go by, you know, you got to just continue to shoot no matter who you're playing against."

Jani Hakanpää ripped a slap shot through traffic past Grubauer at the 7-minute mark to cut the deficit, but the damage from Seattle had been done.

Schultz added his goal with 2:30 left to complete the scoring for Seattle.

The Kraken finished the night with seven goals on 25 total shots against the Dallas goalie tandem. Seven different players scored goals with 12 players notching a point in the victory.

We might not have the biggest names, but we play like a real team," Beniers said.

Notes: Forward Daniel Sprong left the game midway through the second period after being hit against the glass by Dallas defenseman Jani Hakanpää. The hit came with 8:47 remaining in the period with Sprong reaching for his head as he skated toward the bench.

Hakstol did not have an update on Sprong's status after the game. He had just 6:37 of ice time on the night and did not return.

– Game 5 of the series will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday night in Dallas. The game will be broadcast on TNT.