DALLAS — The Seattle Kraken were on the wrong side of one of the all-time great individual performances in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, yet on the right side of the scoreboard in taking another step on what could turn out to be a memorable first playoff run in franchise history.
Yanni Gourde’s wheel-around shot found its way into the back of the net in overtime, lifting the Kraken to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals inside American Airlines Center on Tuesday evening. Seattle earned the victory despite Joe Pavelski scoring all four goals for the Stars, the 40th time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history that an individual scored four goals in a playoff game.
Less than 48 hours after knocking out the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, on the road, Seattle earned its fourth win on the road of the postseason. The Kraken gave up a 4-2 lead in the third, but secured the win when Gourde retrieved a bouncing puck near the left circle before spinning around and shooting the puck in one motion through a crowd of bodies and past Dallas goalkeeper Jake Oettinger to end proceedings at 12:17 of the extra session.
“It was huge. I shot the puck, got a retrieval, stayed on the puck, and I was just fortunate to turn around and find the back of the net,” Gourde said.
Seattle withstood the emotional wave that came with Pavelski’s return to the Dallas lineup, which came two weeks after suffering a concussion during Game 1 of the Stars’ first-round series against Minnesota on a scary hit by Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. Almost on cue, Pavelski scored on his second shift back, beating Philipp Grubauer with a forehand at 2:25 to give the Stars the lead. THough Seattle tied the game at 11:25 of the first on a goal by Jaden Schwartz, Pavelski restored the Stars’ lead just 53 seconds later, scoring on one of his patented deflections from a shot from the blue line, this time from defenseman Thomas Harley, to turn his return into something from a Hollywood script.
The second-year franchise responded with a champion’s poise, scoring three goals in a span of 52 seconds late in the first period to take control. First, defenseman Justin Schultz pinched in and took a pass from Ryan Donato before firing a wrist shot past Oettinger to tie the score at the 14:28 mark. Just 11 seconds later, Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored two goals in Seattle’s 3-2 victory over Colorado on Sunday, converted on a 2-on-1 opportunity and fired a shot that tipped off the stick of Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell and found the top corner of the net to give the Kraken its first lead. The Kraken opened up a 4-2 lead off an offensive zone draw that was won by Matty Beniers and, eventually, a Vince Dunn point shot was deflected home by Jordan Eberle in front at 15:20 of a zany six-goal period.
*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 23 pictures in total.