On Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken will meet at Climate Pledge Arena for Game 4 of their second-round matchup.
So far, the teams have alternated wins, as the Kraken won Game 1, then the Stars evened things up, then the Kraken got back out in front in Game 3. Seattle will now look to use home ice to take a commanding 3-1 lead, while Dallas wants to head home knotted up at two wins apiece.
There are plenty of questions surrounding these clubs as they head into Tuesday’s tilt. Below are three of the most important, the answers to which may very well decide not only Game 4, but also the best-of-seven series.
The Stars and Kraken will play a critical Game 4 on Tuesday.
Will Oettinger bounce back?
After stealing the show in the playoffs last season and having an outstanding first round this year, Jake Oettinger has struggled against the Seattle Kraken. He conceded four goals in the opening period of the matchup, then in Game 3, he gave up five goals in period number two.
The Stars netminder has posted save percentages of .886 and .706 in the two losses in this round, and he was pulled in Game 3. Oettinger is the type of goalie that you’d expect to bounce back in a big way in Game 4, and whether or not he does so will largely influence the game’s result.
Can the Stars defense find an answer?
Seattle has scored a combined 12 goals in their two wins against Dallas in this series, and that alone would be enough of a problem. The way that the Kraken have scored in bunches, though, has been the primary concern.
Game 3 was a prime example as four of their seven goals in the game were scored in a six-minute stretch. The Stars are a good defensive team, and they must find a way to limit the damage when Seattle does manage to score.
Which Kraken player will take over?
Part of the reason that Seattle eliminated the Colorado Avalanche and has a lead on Dallas is the depth of the team. The Kraken are getting contributions from all types of players, which is great, but no one player has taken over yet in the playoffs.
Could Philipp Grubauer replicate his Game 3 performance and lock down Game 4? Will one of Seattle’s skaters get hot and become the story of the series? This is a dangerous team, but if one or two players emerge as stars in these playoffs, the Kraken may become unbeatable.