NHL playoffs: Stars hold on for Game 7 win over Kraken

Rookie Wyatt Johnston scored the game winner to propel Dallas in the conference finals.

The Stars are moving on to the Western Conference final after squeezing past the Kraken in Game 7 on Monday. (Getty Images)
The Stars are moving on to the Western Conference final after squeezing past the Kraken in Game 7 on Monday. (Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars ended the Seattle Kraken’s storybook second season with a 2-1 Game 7 win to end a scintillating second round series in the NHL playoffs.

Once again, Peter DeBoer guided an NHL team to a deep playoff run in his first year behind the bench, and his teams remain undefeated (now 7-0) in Game 7 duels.

The 2023 Western Conference final begins on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. It’s the second time the Stars have advanced this far into the playoffs since 2020 — when Dallas also faced the Golden Knights.

While the Kraken exceeded just about all expectations with this playoff push, the Stars were clearly the superior team in the series decider.

Rising Stars break through in Game 7

If someone told you the Stars would reach the Western Conference final, you may have assumed that Jason Robertson would ascend to being more of a hockey household name than he already was. Instead, his frequent running mate Roope Hintz is stealing the show, and stands as the likely Conn Smythe frontrunner.

Scoring a huge 1-0 goal in Game 7 won’t hurt. As much as the Stars were dominating the run of play, Philipp Grubauer maintained a 0-0 tie through most of the second period.

In a lot of cases, a bad bounce will allow an overwhelmed team to counter-punch. Instead, Hintz and the Stars finally broke through when he swiped a puck from Jamie Oleksiak, who was befuddled by a funky bounce.

With that goal, Hintz now ranks second with nine playoff goals (Leon Draisaitl finished with 13) and second in points with 19 (Connor McDavid currently leads with 20). It’s the sort of run that will have Hintz on the tip of far more tongues going forward.

Speaking of gaining more mainstream traction, Wyatt Johnston chased down what could have been an icing call, saving the play to score an absolute beauty with just over seven minutes remaining in the third period.

With their season on the line, the Kraken struggled to get much of an attack going. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored with 17 seconds left, but it was mere consolation as Jake Oettinger and the Stars held on to win the series.