The Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference finals on Monday night after a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken in Game 7 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The stars move on to take on the Vegas Golden Knights to see who will represent the West in the Stanley Cup Final next month.
After just two years as a team, Kraken were attempting to reach the conference finals, but a rock-solid performance from all-stars on both ends of the ice dashed those hopes.
Goaltender Jake Oettinger only needed 22 saves, thanks to tight defense, and Dallas was able to capitalize on two chances against Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
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Roope Hintz was the first to take advantage of a Kraken mistake with four minutes remaining in the second half. The Stars moved the puck out of their zone for a liner change, but Hintz had other things on his mind as he flew off the bench onto the ice.
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He ran into the blue and stole the puck from Jamie Oleksiak and found the top rack over Grubauer’s right shoulder to put Dallas up, 1-0.
Then it was rookie Wyatt Johnston, who found the puck on his stick in the Kraken zone after Evgenii Dadonov threw a pass across the ice when he couldn’t see anyone around.
Johnston picked it up off the corner wall, headed to the net, and lobbed the puck over Grubauer’s left shoulder this time for a 2-0 lead with 7:12 left in the third period.
With the way the game was going, it seemed like that was the dagger in the Kraken’s back, but Seattle wasn’t going to give up that easily.
With 17.6 seconds remaining in the deciding game, Oliver Bjorkstrand used his backhand to finally pass a puck to Oettinger to make it 2–1. However, his reaction was melancholic because he knew that the Kraken still needed to achieve the impossible.
With his net still empty at the other end, the Kraken earned a tie in his zone with nine seconds remaining. A final push was thrown at Oettinger, but to no avail: he pushed him aside, ensuring victory for the stars.
Dallas has only one Stanley Cup in its possession, although the team has won the conference title three times. The last one came during the 2019-20 campaign, while the Stanley Cup victory was in the 1998-99 season.
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The Western Conference finals will begin on Friday at 8:30 pm ET in Las Vegas.