Tough Nut to Kraken (Stars Gazing; 03.21.23)

Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — Two months of uneven play turned what was a sterling second season in existence for the Seattle Kraken into a last-ditch effort to hang onto a playoff spot. To being their most important road trip of the season, the Kraken found a way to hold on to a massive two points after letting the game slip from their hands in the most agonizing of ways.

Adam Larsson’s goal 1:52 into overtime secured a 5-4 road victory over the Dallas Stars, the first place team in the Central Division on Tuesday evening at American Airlines Arena. Brandon Tanex scored twice while Seattle’s leading scorer, Jared McCann, also scored as the Kraken saw two separate two-goal leads slip — including giving up the game-tying goal with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation — before Larsson’s heroics in the extra session.

“We played a full 60-plus minutes, and we played really hard tonight. We played hard all the way through the game, Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There were portions of the game where it was up and down and a little bit of a track meet, which isn’t in our favor against that team, but at the end of the day, we were able to settle things down well enough. When you give up those two at the end it can be pretty disappointing, yet we went out and found a way to win in overtime. ”

Larsson, a defenseman, found himself ahead of everyone during the 3-on-3 after a long stretch pass from McCann before pulling off a deft forehand-to-backhand fake on Stars goalkeeper Jake Oettinger to score his sixth goal of the season and give the Kraken their second win in their last three contests. Before that stretch, the Kraken had lost three straight to fall out of the top three spots in the Pacific Division and into the Wild Card places.

“Great play in overtime by [Adam] Larsson from [Jared] McCann on that transition play, and those are the kind of plays that you need this time of year to earn another valuable point,” Hakstol said.

Dallas was down 4-2 with just over five minutes remaining in the game after a Ty Dellandrea goal was disallowed on goaltender interference by Max Domi, but it continued to press before it came up with the eventual equalizer. Joe Pavelski scored from the slot off of a pass from Evgenii Dadonov, who had just come onto the ice after the Stars pulled Oettinger, with 3:26 remaining to cut the Keaken’s lead to 4-3. The pressure from the Stars continued nonstop until the end, and deflected shots from Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz eventually saw the puck land in front of Stars captain Jamie Benn, who slammed home the rebound in the final second of regulation to set off raucous celebrations inside American Airlines Arena.

“I loved our will to fight back into the game. We’ve done that all year,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “I didn’t like our start, but we got better as the game went on. We kind of predicted it, coming back off of the road like we did, that we might start slow. You throw in the fact that we’re playing a team that you just swept in their building. [The Kraken] are a motivated group that’s fighting for their playoff life. I’m not surprised it started the way it did. It’s an important point for us. I wish it would’ve been two, but an important point.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.

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