Kraken beat Canucks 6-1 for the first time in team history

Another one bites the dust.

Facing one of the few teams they had never beaten,  the Seattle Kraken posted one of their more dominant victories over the geographic rival Vancouver Canucks, 6-1, last night at Climate Pledge Arena. The win also marked the Kraken’s 28th victory of the season in their 47th game; the team won only 27 games in the 82-game season in their maiden campaign year ago..

“Still a lot of hockey to go,” said Adam Dunn, who’s one of 13 returnees who was a regular a year ago.   “We’re in the spot where we want to be (standings wise). It’s a long season. Just take one game at a time and be consistent heading into the playoffs.”

The win moved the Kraken back into first place in the Pacific Division with a 28-14-5 record. Seattle and Vegas are tied for first place in points (61, one more than they had all of last season ) but the Kraken have fewer losses and a better winning percentage. The Canucks, who won their first game on Tuesday under new head coach Rick Tocchet fall to 19-26-1. The Kraken are 1-5-1 lifetime against the Canucks. Seattle picked up one point in a shootout loss, Dec. 22, in Vancouver.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, who the Kraken acquired in the off-season for his goal scoring ability netted two goals, giving him nine on the season after a slow start. His linemate Eeli Tolvanen, who’s been a steal for the Kraken after general manager Ron Francis plucked him off the waiver wire, added a goal.

The line of Bjorkstrand-Tolvanen and Yanni Gourde (who’s been bothered by an injury and made the lineup as a game time decision) combined for five points and the defense pair of Dunn and Adam Larsson were on the ice for three goals. Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle also had multi-point games

“‘It’s a different year than last year,” said Bjorkstrand, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets for draft choices in the off-season. “Consistency is a huge thing and we’ve been consistent for the most part throughout the season.”

“We played 60 minutes and made it hard right away from the start,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “We played a real direct game, did everything pretty quick. We sustained that through, for sure through the first 40 minutes, and you know for the majority of the 60 minutes we didn’t give up very much.”

Bjorkstrand opened the scoring at 6:29 of the first period. Moments after Vancouver goalie Spencer Martin made a kick save on Bjorkstrand’s shot, the kraken successfully kept the puck in their offensive zone. Dunn passed across to Larsson at the blue line who took the shot and Bjorkstrand banged it home directly in front of the net.

When Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko was whistled off for a hooking penalty, Seattle took all of eight seconds to answer with a power play goal from Alex Wennberg. McCann and Eberle assisted on the goal. McCann would record a power play goal of his own in the second period. McCann wristed home a shot for his 23rd goal of the season. McCann led Seattle with 27 goals a year ago, making him the first player to score 50 goals in a Kraken uniform.

McCann’s goal came with Vancouver’s Tyler Myers in the penalty box, as he was called for interference on a high hit against the Kraken’s Matty Beniers. The Seattle representative in next week’s All-Star game, Beniers took a couple of shifts after that but didn’t play in the third period. After the game all Hakstol would share with the media was that the team decided to keep Beniers out for the final 20 minutes.

After McCann’s score, Seattle’s Jamie Oleksiak and Vancouver defenseman Luke Schenn squared off in a battle of super-heavyweights. Oleksiak picked up the first Kraken major fighting penalty in the 2023 calendar year as both combatants got in their share of punches.

The Kraken dominated the remainder of the period with Tolvanen and Bjorkstrand adding goals. Connor Garland put the only blemish on goalie Martin Jones’ record when he redirected a shot by linemate Curtis Lazar with eight seconds remaining in the second period. Jones still finished the game with 19 saves en route to his 23rd win of the season.

Vancouver staged a third period comeback in their last game against the Kraken but it was too big a mountain for the Canucks to climb last night. Ryan Donato added the sixth Kraken goal, his fourth in three games. Indicative of the Kraken’s play this season, besides scoring goals, McCann and Wennberg also blocked shots late in the game despite their team heading towards a lopsided victory.

The Kraken face another Division rival, the Calgary Flames, tomorrow night at Climate Pledge Arena.

  • The Canucks were the latest of several teams that the Kraken have recently beaten for the first time. Unfortunately, the Kraken have played Vancouver more than any other team except the Los Angeles Kings, also in the Pacific Division. The Kraken did pick one point in their previous game against the Canucks, a 6-5 loss in a shootout. Other teams Seattle hasn’t beaten- Columbus, the Kraken’s opponent on Saturday night before the All-Star break, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
  • Seattle now has a 9-5-2 record against Pacific Division opponents. A total of 10 of their last 35 games are against Pacific Division teams. The Kraken play the Las Vegans Golden Knights – a home-and-home series- in the final two games of the year.
  • A few weeks ago, the Kraken were one of the worst teams in the league for killing penalties (31st in the league). After being shorthanded for almost 10 minutes last night, the Kraken have now killed 13 straight penalties in their last five games.
  • The game’s First Star was Make-a-Wish goaltender, Jackson Boboth. The youngster, who says that Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer is his favorite player, visited the Kraken locker room before the game and was signed to a one-day contract by Kraken GM Ron Francis. Jackson took to the ice with the Kraken, wearing goalie equipment and number 32. When the selection was announced, team mascot Buoy picked up Jackson, who had the honor of tossing a fish into the crowd.
  • Down on the farm, Coachella Valley Falcons’ captain Max McCormick was named AHL Player of the Week Monday on the strength of his four goals and four assists in three wins this past week. McCormick, who played 10 games for the Kraken last season, scored a goal and added two assists in a 5-2 home win last Monday on Martin Luther King Day, then notched a hat trick in a 5-4 overtime road victory over the Ontario Reign on Saturday. 
  • The worst kept secret in British Columbia last weekend was that the Canucks were about to fire popular head coach Bruce Boudreau. Last season, Boudreau left the Hockey Network to take over the Canucks’ reign. When Vancouver went thru a streak of two wins in 12 games, new general manager Jim Rutherford tabbed Rick Tocchet to take over. Last Saturday, with Boudreau’s release imminent, Vancouver fans started chanting, `Bruce, Bruce.’ Canuck fans at last night’s game revisited that chant with their team down 6-1. Vancouver won its first game under Tocchet, Tuesday night, against Chicago (5-2), at home. Ironically, Boudreau scored his first NHL goal back in 1977 as a Toronto Maple Leaf against Rutherford, in goal for the Detroit Red Wings. Boudreau replaced Travis Green as coach early last season and all three coaches are still on the Vancouver payroll for approximately $7.5 million. The Canucks are rumored to be marketing some of their veteran players to get below the salary cap.


First Period

S- Oliver Bjorkstrand (Adam Larsson, Vince Dunn) 6:29. S- Alex Wennberg (Justin Eberle, Jared McCann) PPG 9:46.

Second Period

S- McCann (Eberle, Burakovsky) PPG 5:55. S- Eeli Tolvanen (Yanni Gourde, Dunn) 7:50. S- Bjorkstrand (Larsson, Gourde) 16:15. V- Conor Garland (Curtis Lazar, Dakota Joshua) 19:52.

Third Period

S- Ryan Donato (Jared McCann) 2:36.

Shots on Goal- Vancouver 20, Seattle 35.

Penalty Minutes- Vancouver 13, Seattle 17.

Referees- Jake Brenk, Pierre Lambert. Linesmen- 1. Jackson. 2. Oliver Bjorkstrand, S. 3. Adam Larsson, S.

Three Stars- 1, Jackson 2. Oliver Bjorkstrand, S 3. Adam Larsson, S.

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