DALLAS — Joe Pavelski was on the ice with the second line Monday for the Dallas Stars, who are getting ready to play a second-year team in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
“It’s a big piece we got back,” forward Jason Robertson said. “We’re going to use that momentum and that energy that he brings. … It’s definitely a great energy boost for us.”
While Pavelski appears set to play in the series opener against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night, it looks like the veteran 38-year-old center won’t immediately go back on the top line after missing the last five games of the opening round against Minnesota while in concussion protocol.
The Stars were back at practice after a weekend off since ending the Minnesota series in Game 6 Friday night. The Kraken traveled Monday to Dallas from Denver, where Sunday night they eliminated last year’s Stanley Cup champion in a seventh game.
“They’re one of the deepest teams in the league. … That top line of theirs is as good as any in the league, all the way through their D-core and goaltending,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said of the Stars. “We obviously have to turn the page really quickly from the Colorado series.”
Pavelski didn’t skate between Robertson and NHL playoff scoring leader Roope Hintz (12 points) in practice, but instead was a winger on the second line with center Max Domi and Mason Marchment. Tyler Seguin, who had four power-play goals, stayed in the top-line spot he’s been in since Pavelski banged his head hard on the ice after a blindside hit in the playoff opener two weeks ago.
“I thought (Seguin) did an unbelievable job jumping in that spot,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “If we can put Pav in a different spot, that makes us better. If that first line can continue to play the way they did against Minnesota then, I think, that allows us to be a deeper team with Pav on one of the other lines.”
MINI-SERIES IN MARCH
The road team won each time when Seattle and Dallas played their three regular-season games over an 11-day span in March. Two of the games went to overtime.
The Stars won back-to-back games in Seattle, and the Kraken won 5-4 in OT at Dallas after Stars captain Jamie Benn tied the game with 0.7 seconds left in regulation.
“It helps a little bit in pre-scouting … but you throw out the regular season come playoff time,” DeBoer said. “They had to play a really solid game to beat the Stanley Cup champions, and you see that in their game. It was different than when we played them at the end of the season. So we’re getting a different team, and I would like to think we’re a different team.”
Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who had 64 saves in a Game 7 overtime loss in the first round of last year’s playoffs, stopped 82 of 85 shots as they won their last three games against Minnesota. The 24-year-old has a .945 save percentage and 1.83 goals-against-average in 15 career playoff games.
“What he’s seeing right now he is stopping,” Hakstol said.
Philipp Grubauer was stellar with 33 saves in the series-clinching win that made the Kraken the first expansion team to beat the reigning Stanley Cup champs in their inaugural playoff series, according to NHL Stats. He stopped 94 shots the last three games against his former team.
IN THE DEPTHS
The Kraken tied an NHL record with 15 different goal scorers against Colorado, becoming the fifth team ever to have that many goal scorers in an opening-round series. Oliver Bjorkstrand became the final addition to that list scoring both of Seattle’s goals in the Game 7 win.
“That’s been our formula throughout the year,” Hakstol said. “That’s been the expectation of the players within the room, is that somebody different each night is going to have to chip in and gonna have to step up, and it probably will be a different guy.”
Seattle’s goal scorers didn’t include Jared McCann, who led the team with a career-high 40 goals in the regular season. He hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 on a late hit from Cale Makar that led to a one-game suspension.
Dallas had 10 different goal scorers against the Wild. Hintz had five goals and Seguin four. Robertson, the first 100-point scorer for Dallas in the regular season, had two goals and five assists.
Seattle defenseman Adam Larsson was one of five players for the Kraken to appear in every game this season, but he’s the only player to appear in every game in the two seasons of the franchise.
Larsson didn’t slow down in the first-round series against the Avs, leading Seattle averaging 25 minutes, 31 seconds on the ice.