February 5, 2023

November 1, 2022;  Calgary, Alberta, CAN;  Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol on his bench against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Barely a season and a half since its inception, the Seattle Kraken are poised to take on their third head coach, the Vancouver Canucks.

They’re still looking for that first win against either of them.

The Kraken will look to end that streak Wednesday night when they host the Canucks and new coach Rick Tocchet.

Tocchet, hired Sunday to replace Bruce Boudreau after the Canucks struggled to an 18-25-3 start, made his debut behind the Vancouver bench in a 5-2 home win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night .

Andrei Kuzmenko scored twice in the second half, the Canucks pulled away from a 2-2 draw with goals 34 seconds apart midway through the third period, and Bo Horvat added a manpowered goal with his 31st goal , to even out his career high that season.

The Canucks, overtaking Chicago 48-14, slipped in three games and won for a third time in their last 13 games.

“You like the result, but it’s difficult for me to do it again,” Tocchet said. “You have to change (line) hard again, you have to follow hard. It’s hard to win. You have to accept the hardness. …And I shouldn’t say that making a game is easy, but it’s hard to keep making this stuff. And it’s like a habit. You have to keep going.”

Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson knew what to expect after playing under Tocchet in Arizona from 2017-21.

“He’s an energetic guy and brings a lot of structure,” said Ekman-Larsson. “He’ll have a lot of rules and be tough on us. (Tocchet) wants us to play with a lot of speed and work harder and smarter. I think it will skate a lot and not stand still as much. I think that will benefit our group.”

While the Canucks have been struggling lately, the Kraken are 9-2-1 in January.

They were eliminated from a tie for first place at the top of the Pacific Division on Saturday night with a 2-1 loss in the shootout to guest, Colorado Avalanche, the defending Stanley Cup champion.

“We were in the fight for more than 65 minutes,” said Kraken trainer Dave Hakstol. “Obviously it’s disappointing when you don’t win…but our effort, level of work and fight have been good throughout the hockey game.”

Now it’s all about beating the Canucks…

In their inaugural season, the Kraken went 0-4-0 against Vancouver coaches Travis Green and Boudreau.

Seattle is down 1-0 with the Canucks this season, losing 4-5 at home on October 27 and 6-5 in a shootout in Vancouver on December 22. The Canucks bounced back from a two-goal deficit in the third period in the final game as Elias Pettersson scored two goals and three assists and added the winning goal on penalties.

Hakstol said he expects another inspired effort from the Canucks in Tocchet’s first road game.

“I’m sure they will tweak and change some things as they come in, but I wouldn’t expect a major change,” Hakstol said. “What I’m expecting is a big effort from their team (Wednesday) night no matter what structure they’re heading towards.”

Andre Burakovsky, the Kraken’s top scorer with 38 points, had a late scratch against Colorado. Hakstol said Burakovsky would be a game decider on Wednesday, as would fellow strikers Yanni Gourde and Alex Wennberg. All three have unknown injuries.

–Field level media

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