January 29, 2023

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SEATTLE — Oliver Bjorkstrand wasn’t there as the Seattle Kraken struggled in their disappointing inaugural season, but he understood the significance of their 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

Led by Björkstrand’s first multigoal game of the season, the Kraken earned their first win in franchise history over their Pacific Northwest rivals, surpassing their wins and points totals from last season – all before the All-Star break.

“A different team and definitely figured something out this season,” said Bjorkstrand. “We’re on to some good stuff. Consistency is a big thing and I think we’ve been pretty consistent for most of the season.”

Seattle earned its 28th win and 61st point in its 47th game. Last season, the Kraken expansion only managed 27 wins and 60 points.

This came in convincing fashion against the Canucks, who were playing their second game under coach Rick Tocchet after Seattle lost their first six matchups since joining the NHL.

“It’s a great win for our club. We definitely owed them something for the past two years,” said defense attorney Vince Dunn.

Bjorkstrand started Seattle’s big night with his eighth game 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 January 8, 2022, when he made a pair for Columbus against New Jersey.

Jared McCann added his team-high 23rd of the season on power play. Alex Wennberg also had a power-play goal and Eeli Tolvanen’s one-time goal was his sixth goal in 13 games since he was signed from the Waivers by Seattle.

Ryan Donato added his 12th goal early in the third period, his fourth goal in the last three games after going eight games without one.

Dunn had two assists and posted a career-high 36 points. Jordan Eberle, Adam Larsson, Yanni Gourde and McCann all had two assists.

Martin Jones made 19 saves for Seattle.

“That was 60 minutes. We played 60 minutes,” said coach Dave Hakstol. “We made it difficult from the start.”

Conor Garland scored his ninth goal of the season in the closing seconds of the second period, but otherwise it was a miserable night for the Canucks. Spencer Martin made 29 saves.

Tocchet’s second game as manager after taking charge of fired manager Bruce Boudreau was very different from his debut the night before when Vancouver beat Chicago.

In the third period of “Bruce, there is” there was even a short singing reference to Boudreau that seemed to come from a mix of Kraken and Canucks fans.

“It’s a good team,” said Tocchet. “I don’t know if the fear caught up with some of the guys, the emotions of the last week but that was bad tonight. That was bad.”

The Canucks were sloppy, taking two careless penalties that resulted in Seattle goals.

Seattle went just eight seconds after Andrei Kuzmenko was penalized for Andrei Kuzmenko’s 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the first period for hooking for Wennberg. The Kraken extended it to 3-0 through McCann’s goal after Tyler Myers was called out for interference from Matty Beniers.

“You hate to call your team soft, but tonight it was soft,” Tocchet said. “We didn’t take part in the wall fights. … We knew this was a good team. We didn’t play predictably. Old habits came (back). I wish I had about 10 training sessions because that shows tonight we have a lot to do.”

Beniers was shaken up after the goal and later played in the third but did not play in the third. Hakstol said Beniers was unavailable.

NOTES: Seattle F Jaden Schwartz (undisclosed) missed his sixth straight game, while D Justin Schultz (undisclosed) missed his third straight game. Hakstol said Schultz now faces his injury week in and week out, having previously been listed as day in and day out. … Vancouver put 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.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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