“NHL Playoffs: Back-and-forth trips as Stars look to close out Kraken in only NHL game Saturday”
Just like in the opening round, the Dallas Stars finally grabbed their first series lead by winning Game 5 against Seattle.
Now they hope to repeat the entire scenario in the second round, looking to clinch on the road and return home for some extra rest.
“That’s exactly the message,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said Friday, a day after their 5-2 win in Game 5. “Any time you get an opportunity to eliminate a team and save yourself the wear and tear of an extra game in a series, it’s helpful as you move through the playoff trail. … So you want to take advantage of these elimination opportunities.”
The Stars and Kraken headed back to Seattle for Game 6 on Saturday, after flying halfway across the country for the second time in three days.
This is the second Saturday in a row with only one NHL playoffs game. Carolina wrapped up its second-round series in the East against New Jersey with an overtime win in Game 5 on Thursday night.
Dallas will make the roughly 1,700-mile, four-hour flight for the third time in five days Sunday no matter what happens in Seattle. The Stars will be going home for a Game 7 against the Kraken on Monday night, or a short break while waiting for the outcome of the other Western Conference semifinal series between Edmonton and Vegas.
Seattle lost Game 6 in the opening round with a chance to clinch its first-ever playoff series at home, but did win Game 7 in Colorado to knock out last year’s Stanley Cup champion.
“We’re a confident group,” coach Dave Hakstol said before the Kraken departed their Dallas hotel Friday.
“We haven’t ducked reality or ducked the truth at any point in time through this year, and we won’t now. … The reality is, to win the series we have to win two in a row, but you can’t really worry about two right now. We’ve got to go home and get one.”
The Kraken trailed 3-0 a minute into the second period Thursday night in Dallas before goals from Adam Larsson and Jared McCann cut the deficit to 3-2 going to the final period. But Roope Hintz scored again for the Stars with 9 1/2 minutes left before they added a late empty-net goal.
“They’re skilled, fast, big, whatever you want to call it,” Larsson said. “I think we’ve been been playing pretty good hockey. … I’m confident we can come back in this series, and it’s far from over.”
McCann became the 18th different player with a goal for the Kraken in their 12 playoff games. He had a team-high 40 goals in the regular season, but has missed half their playoff games because of an injury from a late hit in Game 4 against Colorado.
Jason Robertson, who in the regular season became the first Dallas player ever with 100 points (46 goals, 63 assists), has gone six games in a row without a goal, and has only three in his 18 career playoff games. But he had assists on three consecutive goals in Game 5 with the Stars’ top line of Robertson, Hintz and Joe Pavelski back together for only the second time this series.
“He’s doing a lot of good things, he’s getting a lot of good looks,” Pavelski said. “It’ll start going in.”
Pucks are going in for the 38-year-old Pavelski, with seven goals this series after missing the last five games of the opening round while in concussion protocol. He returned in Game 1 against Seattle by scoring all the Stars’ goals in a 5-4 overtime loss. His goal in the opening minute Thursday made it 3-0, and matched the Stars franchise history for goals in a playoff series.
Hintz has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) this postseason. He put the Stars up 2-0 only 5 1/2 minutes into Thursday night’s game, then restored a two-goal advantage in the third period.
“He’s been an absolute monster for us this playoff,” DeBoer said. “It’s almost a coming out party for him. He’s been a playoff player before, but he hasn’t been a dominant playoff player, and that’s what he looks like in this year’s playoffs.”
Author: Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press
Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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