NHL: Kraken, Stars try to work around injuries with Game 4 on horizon

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With Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen on all fours in front of the crease after getting hit in the face with the puck, the Seattle Kraken’s Jordan Eberle scored the opening goal of Game 3 Sunday night.

Heiskanen, the former All-Star who was averaging an NHL high of 29:45 of ice time in the playoffs, was hurt early in the second period and didn’t return as the host Kraken cruised to a 7-2 victory, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

Heiskanen’s status is now up in the air as the Stars visit Seattle on Tuesday for Game 4.

Stars coach Peter DeBoer said Heiskanen had a bad cut on his left cheek, but there was no damage around his eye and he is not going through concussion protocol. Seattle’s Tye Kartye took a shot from the high slot that deflected off Dallas defenseman Ryan Suter’s stick and hit Heiskanen. Heiskanen dropped to his knees, with Eberle picking up the loose puck and putting it past Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger.

“We’ll see how he feels (Tuesday),” DeBoer said of Heiskanen. “Twenty-four hours makes a big difference with those type of things.”

Heiskanen’s injury obviously rattled the Stars, who conceded goals the Kraken’s first four shots of the second period.

“He’s a big piece for us for sure,” Stars forward Mason Marchment said. “He’s our horse back there. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go, but that’s scary. You never want to see that happen to anyone, especially your teammate. Even on top of that, it was a pretty unlucky bounce. We’re hoping he’s going to be back and ready to go, but obviously hate to see that.”

Heiskanen, who had seven assists in the first eight playoff games, is crucial for the Stars not only on the power play, but also in the transition game in getting the puck out of Dallas’ own end of the rink.

“You don’t replace a guy like that, right?” DeBoer said. “In our group he’s really unique just because he has those skills. We don’t have three or four guys like that. I mean, no one in the league does, but he’s the one guy on our team that really makes plays under pressure to create offense, starting in our end of the ice. He has that ability. I think that’s special and unique.

“If he’s not in the lineup, we’ll miss that. But that’s this time of year. You’ve got to (have the attitude of) next man up, and someone (must) be ready to go.”

Seattle is dealing with its own injuries, and Kraken coach Dave Hakstol didn’t have an update on forward Jared McCann on Monday.

McCann, Seattle’s leading scorer with 40 goals in the regular season, hasn’t played since Game 4 of the opening round due to an undisclosed injury suffered while taking a late hit from Colorado’s Cale Makar.

McCann returned to practice Saturday wearing a red no-contact jersey, then shed that for a regular white jersey for Sunday’s morning skate.

“He’s a huge part of our team,” Hakstol said. “We want to get him back as soon as we can. Hopefully that’ll be sometime this series, but until we’re able to have him back, everybody else has to step up and just continue doing their job and do it at a high level.”

–Field Level Media

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