The Stars’ Wyatt Johnston (53) and Colin Miller (6) celebrate with the bench after Johnston scored as the Kraken’s Ryan Donato (9) and Alex Wennberg (21) skate past in the second period of Game 2 of second-round playoff series Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Stars’ Wyatt Johnston (53) and Colin Miller (6) celebrate with the bench after Johnston scored as the Kraken’s Ryan Donato (9) and Alex Wennberg (21) skate past in the second period of Game 2 of second-round playoff series Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Stars defeat Kraken in Game 2, even playoff series 1-1

Joe Pavelski scores his fifth goal of the series as Dallas tops Seattle 4-2.

  • By Geoff Baker The Seattle Times
  • Friday, May 5, 2023 2:10pm
  • SportsKraken

By Geoff Baker / The Seattle Times

DALLAS — Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn isn’t a big believer in playoff road weariness, figuring postseason adrenaline alone should counter any fatigue this time of year.

What Dunn was more concerned about following Thursday night’s 4-2 loss to the hometown Stars in Game 2 of this second round series was his team making the contest “a lot harder than it needed to be” at times. That was glaringly evident during a second period in which they allowed a playoff-high 19 shots and spent much of the frame killing penalties and unable to get their own game untracked.

“Just the details weren’t there completely,” Dunn said. “As a group, the things we talk about every single time, we didn’t really do every single shift. And at this time of the year, if you don’t do that, teams will make you pay.”

Jordan Eberle went upstairs on Jake Oettinger from close range in the final four minutes of the game to get the Kraken within two and enable them to pull goalie Philipp Grubauer for an extra attacker.

But the Kraken could get no closer in a game far more lopsided than the final score.

The Dallas victory evened the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal at 1-1 with Game 3 shifting to Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday night after both teams get an extra day off. For the Kraken, who’ve been home just two days out of the last nine, it should be a welcome chance to get their legs back under them, regardless of whether it was road travel, lack of execution or all the penalties taken that made them look sluggish.

“I think we were just a little bit safe and that’s where our team struggles,” Dunn said after the Kraken had early chances, then rarely threatened Oettinger from in close until the final minutes of the contest. “We need to be more on our toes, more aggressive. We’re not the biggest, most physical team always so we need to use our speed and our sticks and our ability to be tight together and aggressive to create offensive chances and get the puck out of our end.”

And that they rarely did in the middle frame, especially once the penalty box procession began.

“They had a lot more power play looks than we did,” Dunn said. “So, you can start with that.”

Wyatt Johnston opened the scoring just seconds after one such penalty to Carson Soucy had expired. Joe Pavelski cashed in his fifth goal in fewer than five periods played this series while also on the power play with Will Borgen off as the dastardly second period ticked down.

Evgenii Dadonov also scored that frame to give Dallas a 2-0 lead before Tye Kartye got the Kraken on the board with a pinpoint wrist shot from the left circle. Kartye had started his shift by drilling a Stars player off his feet before finishing it with a goal that briefly gave his team some life.

But Pavelski’s goal, jamming a rebound past Grubauer, restored the two-goal lead by intermission and completed a 20-minute display of dominance by Dallas that showed it is still quite capable of winning this series. The Stars outshot the Kraken 19-9 in the period and would have overwhelmed them on the scoreboard if not for Grubauer’s continued acrobatics in net.

Tyler Seguin added a fourth Dallas goal on a net front deflection with nine minutes to play in the third.

“We got back to it a little bit, but against a team like that you’ve got to do that for all 60 minutes,” Kartye said after his second NHL goal in five games since being called up from the AHL to replace the injured Jared McCann.

Grubauer kept things scoreless in the opening period when another late Kraken penalty taken by Soucy led to a barrage of Dallas shots in an otherwise tightly played frame. While the Stars outshot the Kraken 11-5 that period — and 37-27 overall — three came on the late power play followed by two more right after it expired that Grubauer looked spectacular stopping.

His best saves were a kick-stop of a one-timed Max Domi slapper on the power play, followed by a denial on a Dadonov wraparound try similar to the one he later scored on. That followed at even strength when Grubauer somehow kept his eye on a point shot that changed direction when Roope Hintz deflected it from about 18 feet out.

But Grubauer couldn’t do it all — especially once the Kraken allowed Dallas forwards to go to the net seemingly at will. All four goals by the Stars were scored from close-in, two off rebounds, one on the wraparound and another on a deflection.

“Each of the first two power plays, they generated a ton of momentum off of those,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said, adding: “We’ve got to take care of our discipline the last few power plays. This is a team that came into the series at 37.5% (power play efficiency) so they’re feeling pretty good. And even if they don’t capitalize, as you saw tonight, they’re going to generate momentum out of that.”

The Kraken had a couple of early scoring chances with the game still scoreless. Eberle had the biggest, working the puck forward on a 2-on-1 break and carrying it all the way through by himself before Oettinger stopped him on a last-second deke try.

From then on, they generated little net front traffic and had few quality chances against Oettinger until Eberle’s late goal.

“We didn’t spend enough time in the offensive zone tonight, to be honest with you, in terms of generating opportunities,” Hakstol said of the lack of chances. “That’s a domino that falls after you’re able to gain time in the offensive zone and we didn’t do that tonight.

“It’s going to be something that’ll be a factor in this series, for sure,” he added. “You know, it’s something we’ll have to continue to address.”

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