We are officially to the point in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at which elimination games are on the horizon. For the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken, their 2-2 series means that Game 5 will not be an elimination game, though it will push one team to the brink.
The Kraken have led this series twice, once after winning the opening game and once after taking Game 3. Each time Seattle has earned a victory, Dallas has responded with a win of its own.
To this point, it has been a high-scoring and lopsided matchup. Game 1 went into overtime, but that was the only game decided by one goal. The widest margin of victory was five goals by the Kraken in Game 3.
What will it take for the Stars and Kraken to win in Game 5?
So, what should fans expect in this pivotal fifth game? Here are three keys to the game for Dallas and Seattle.
Can either goaltender take over?
In Game 3, Jake Oettinger of the Stars was pulled. In Game 4, it was the Kraken’s Philipp Grubauer being relegated to the bench. The two netminders have combined for as many games with a .900 save percentage or better in this series as they have games with sub-.800 save percentages (two each).
Needless to say, both teams are hoping for better performances in the remaining games, and if one goalie is able to get back on track consistently, that might be what ultimately wins this series. I’d lean toward Oettinger figuring things out over Grubauer, but it seems more likely at this point that we’ll continue to see a lot of goals.
Will Jared McCann be an X-factor?
Kraken forward Jared McCann made his return to the lineup in Game 4, logging just over 13 minutes in ice time. He was held without a point and was a minus-1, though he did get three shots on goal.
In five playoff games this spring, McCann only has one assist. However, he was a 40-goal scorer for the Kraken, and they’ll be thrilled to have him back in the lineup. If he can get going offensively in Game 5, look for Seattle to have another high-scoring night.
The Dallas Stars cashed in for two power play goals in their Game 4 victory, something they had not yet done in this series. Their power play, like their penalty kill, is one of the best among remaining teams so far in the playoffs. For Seattle, the power play has struggled.
Winning the special teams battle is important, as teams in this series are 3-0 when they strike with the man advantage.
Game 5 between the Stars and Kraken will be back at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday, May 11. The puck will drop at 9:30 PM on TNT.