SEATTLE (AP) — Oliver Bjorkstrand wasn't around for the struggles the Seattle Kraken endured during their disappointing inaugural season, but he understood the significance of their 6-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
Led by Bjorkstrand's first multigoal game of the season, the Kraken earned the first win in franchise history over their Pacific Northwest rivals and topped their win and points totals from last season — all before the NHL All-Star break.
“Different team and definitely figured things out this season,” Bjorkstrand said. “We’re on to some good stuff. Consistency is a huge thing and I think throughout the season for the most part, we’ve been pretty consistent.”
Seattle picked up its 28th victory and 61st point in its 47th game. Last season, the expansion Kraken managed just 27 wins and 60 points.
This one came in convincing fashion against the Canucks — playing their second game under coach Rick Tocchet — after Seattle had lost the first six matchups since joining the NHL.
“That’s a great win for our club. We definitely owed them over the past two years,” defenceman Vince Dunn said.
Bjorkstrand started Seattle’s big night with his eighth of the season at 7:57 of the first period. His second goal came at 16:15 of the second and gave the Kraken a 5-0 lead. It was Bjorkstrand’s first multigoal game since Jan. 8, 2022, when he scored a pair for Columbus against New Jersey.
Jared McCann added his team-high 23rd of the season on the power play. Alex Wennberg also scored a power-play goal and Eeli Tolvanen’s one-timer was his sixth goal in 13 games since being picked up by Seattle off waivers.
Ryan Donato added his 12th early in the third period, his fourth goal in the past three games after going eight games without one.
Martin Jones made 19 saves for Seattle.
“That was 60 minutes. We played 60 minutes,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “We made it hard right away from the start.”
Tocchet’s second game in charge after taking over for fired coach Bruce Boudreau was far different than his debut a night earlier when Vancouver thumped Chicago 5-2.
There was even a brief chant in the third period of “Bruce, there it is,” in reference to Boudreau that seemed to come from a mix of Kraken and Canucks fans.
“That's a good team right there,” Tocchet said. “I don't know if the anxiety caught up to some of the guys, the emotions of the last week, but that was bad tonight. That was bad.”
The Canucks were sloppy and took two careless penalties that led to Seattle goals.
Seattle needed just eight seconds after Andrei Kuzmenko was penalized for hooking for Wennberg to make it 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the first period. The Kraken extended it to 3-0 on McCann's goal after Tyler Myers was called for interference barrelling through Matty Beniers away from the play.
“You hate to call your team soft, but it was soft tonight,” Tocchet said. “We didn't participate in the wall battles. … We knew this was a good team. We didn't play predictable. Old habits came (back). I wish I had like 10 practices because it shows tonight we've got a lot of work to do.”
Beniers was noticeably shaken up after the hit and played later in the period, but did not play in the third. Hakstol said Beniers was unavailable.
Seattle F Jaden Schwartz (undisclosed) missed his sixth straight game, while D Justin Schultz (undisclosed) missed his third straight. Hakstol said Schultz is now week-to-week with his injury after previously being listed as day-to-day. … Vancouver placed F William Lockwood on injured reserve and F Phillip Di Giuseppe was recalled from Abbotsford.
Canucks: Host Columbus on Friday.
Kraken: Host Calgary on Friday.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press