The Dallas Stars advanced to the NHL Western Conference Final with an exciting Game 7 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Monday.
Roope Hintz and Wyatt Johnston each grabbed goals for Dallas in a 2-1 victory at American Airlines Center which sealed a 4-3 series victory for the Stars.
It is Dallas’ first trip to the conference final since 2020 where it will face the Vegas Golden Knights for an opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup – the Stars last won the famous trophy in 1999.
“It was our best team game of the playoffs,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer – who improved his undefeated record in Game 7’s to 7-0 – told reporters afterwards.
“I knew our group would respond (from the loss in Game 6). They have all year individually and collectively as a team, and they didn’t disappoint.”
DeBoer became the first coach in NHL history to lead four different teams to the conference final/semifinal round of the postseason in his first season as coach.
The attacking contributions from Hintz and Johnston have been pivotal for Dallas’ playoff run and that was the same again on Monday night.
Hintz scored his ninth goal of the postseason to open the scoring after dispossessing Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak in the second period.
And Johnston, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, doubled the home team’s lead midway through the third period.
It is the second consecutive game- and series-clinching goal for Johnston, who scored the decisive goal to help Dallas eliminate the Minnesota Wild in Game 6 of the first round.
Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger was a man-mountain in the Dallas goal, making 22 saves to deny the Kraken a route back into the game.
And after the victory over the Kraken, Oettinger believes the Stars can go all the way.
“When you ask me if we think we can win it, I feel like not every year you can honestly say yes. I think this year, I feel like we can win it – and we have everything,” Oettinger said.
“When we play the way we want to play and we do the little things right, I think we can beat anyone and having that belief is pretty cool. I think everyone in the locker room thinks that and that’s a unique thing. Not every team can say that every year.”
Game 1 of the Western Conference Final will take place on Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
In the Eastern Conference Final, the Carolina Hurricanes will play the Florida Panthers.