What the Stars did, or in some cases, didn’t do, in a 7-2 loss Sunday in Game 3 led to a number of questions being asked about what would happen next in Game 4.
For example, how would they recover from their largest defeat of this current postseason campaign? Would star defenseman Miro Heiskanen play and, if so, how would he perform in Game 4? Would the Stars find secondary scoring? And would Game 4 send the Stars a step closer to elimination or would it help them draw level in order to keep their Western Conference Finals chances alive?
Heiskanen’s status was in question after Game 3 when he took a shot to his left cheek and didn’t return. He was initially listed as a game-time decision only to mark his return by finishing with an assist and a game-high 31:02 in ice time.
“He makes it look so easy out there,” Stars rookie defenseman Thomas Harley said. “I’ll be on the bench, and he’ll do something like, ‘Holy crap. How’d he do that?’ He’s the safety blanket, he’s just about everything for us back there.”
Heiskanen, who did not speak at morning skate, spoke after the game for the first time since his injury in Game 3. The 23-year-old had a cut that was about two inches in length that was held together by stiches. Heiskanen, who wore a cage, said his left cheek was a little swollen, but he still felt fine logging more than a half hour in ice time.
“It didn’t bother me, I felt pretty good there,” Heiskanen said of his ice time. “It doesn’t matter. It felt pretty normal. It’s always a nice thing to get minutes up and get it going again.”
As far as what the Stars did, overall, in Game 4 to make up for what happened in Game 3? That started with their start.
Even before Stars captain Jamie Benn scored late in the first, the Stars used the entirety of the opening frame to build toward that moment. They worked to find ways that saw them either consistently create scoring chances or at least be in a position to have them. It’s why they finished the period with 11 shots while limiting the Kraken to just five with Benn giving them a 1-0 lead.
One of the reasons behind why the Stars lost Game 3 was how the Kraken parlayed their depth into scoring four unanswered second-period goals before taking a 5-1 lead into the third period.
One of the reasons behind why the Stars won Game 4 was how they parlayed their depth into scoring three straight goals for a run of four unanswered goals before they took a 5-1 lead into the third period.
Harley scored his first playoff goal to give the Stars a 2-0 lead before goals from Max Domi and Joe Pavelski pushed the lead to 4-0. And even though Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz scored to trim the lead to 4-1, Roope Hintz scored his sixth goal of the postseason to give the Stars a four-goal edge going into the third.
Then there’s how the Stars scored those goals. Harley’s shot came from about 28 feet with Domi, Pavelski and Hintz scoring goals that were within 16 feet of the net, according to IcyData.
“I think out of the gates, we had everyone going and that’s what it takes to win in the playoffs and beat good teams,” said Domi, whose second goal was an empty netter. “Seattle is a great team over there. They work hard, they got a lot of depth, and we needed a little more from everyone and I think we got that tonight.”
Getting those six goals from five different players goes back to a point Benn made after Game 3 in that the Stars needed more contributions. Benn even went as far as saying he was “probably one of our worst players.”
Pavelski scored all four goals in Game 1, and he scored again in Game 2. But the Stars also got goals from three different scorers to the series. They only had two scorers in Game 3 but that set the stage for Game 4 to be their most complete scoring effort of the second round.
“We were better everywhere than we were the game before,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That was the goal and when we’re playing well, that’s what we look like. We’re not giving up much, we’re putting pressure on the other team. We fixed a lot of things from the previous game and now we got to replicate that in Game 5.”
‘We were better everywhere’: Stars bounce back, even series