The Seattle Kraken eliminated the defending champions in the franchise's first Stanley Cup playoff series
Now it's time to see what the Kraken will do for an encore when they kick off the Western Conference semifinals on the road Tuesday against the Dallas Stars
The Kraken, who claimed a wild-card berth for their first playoff trip in their second year of existence, upset the Colorado Avalanche in a thrilling seven-game series. Seattle opened the scoring in every game, stymied the vaunted Colorado power play (2-for-18) and claimed three of four games in Denver
"It's amazing," forward Yanni Gourde said. "It's a great feeling. So proud of this group."
Dallas won two of three regular-season meetings between the clubs, one in overtime. Seattle's lone victory came in extra time.
"When you look at the regular season, pretty tight games here, but they're a really good team, and the playoffs, the cards get mixed newly," Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer said. "They're fresh, and we got a couple days of rest, so we've got to make sure we prepare ourselves really well."
Seattle has become a perfect example of what team-wide commitment can achieve. The Kraken had 15 players score goals in the series without forward Jared McCann lighting the lamp once. McCann, who netted 40 goals in the regular season, missed the final three games due to injury
"It's just depth," said forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored both goals in his team's 2-1 series-clinching win on Sunday. "Every line can score on any given night -- defensemen, forwards, whatever. It's how we have success as a team. It's something we've got to keep striving for."
The Stars eliminated the Minnesota Wild in six games after trailing their best-of-seven series 2-1
"It was a hell of a test for us," Dallas coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think (Joe Pavelski) going down early in that series rattled us a little bit. But I think I said that we had kind of moved past that and were really starting to play well. I thought we were getting better as the series went on. We worked through some stuff against a really good opponent and I'm proud of our group."
Pavelski, who suffered a concussion in the opening game of the Minnesota series, is expected to return when the series begins, which would be a huge boost for the Stars. Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson were very strong against the Wild without him on the top line, but they'd be improved with Pavelski back. It would also allow Tyler Seguin to move to the third line, providing more depth
As much as Dallas rode its offense to success, the difference in the series was the Stars' defensive play shifting into high gear. Goaltender Jake Oettinger surrendered only three goals over the final three games
"He loves the moments," Seguin said of Oettinger. "He loves the spotlight. I mean if anyone had extra pressure, you're in your hometown, you got your family here and maybe you're going to be a little shaky, but there's nothing there. We love having him."
Like the Kraken, the Stars are well aware how big of a deal it is to win a series but know it's just one step towards a bigger quest
"I think I learned just how hard it is to win the Cup," Oettinger said. "You've got to go and do that three more times now. It takes everything. It takes every ounce of what you've got."
--Field Level Media