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Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken knock out defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado

Seattle, in its second year of existence, beat the Avalanche in Game 7 of their opening-round series on Sunday night.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Seattle Kraken at Colorado Avalanche
Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol looks on during the second period of Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports

GRAND FORKS โ€” Dave Hakstol had one of his best moments coaching college hockey in Ball Arena.

On Sunday night, he had his best moment as an NHL coach in the building, too.

Hakstol's Seattle Kraken, in their second year of existence, stunned the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in a decisive Game 7 to knock the defending Stanley Cup champions out of the playoffs.

"I'm just really happy for the guys," Hakstol said. "I'm proud of their effort. They deserve this."

It marked the first time in NHL history that a defending Stanley Cup winner was knocked out by a team making its first playoff appearance.

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Seattle now advances to the Western Conference semifinals, where it will take on the Dallas Stars in a best-of-seven series. Game 1 is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dallas.

The Kraken were massive underdogs against the Avalanche.

"We've heard it all year," Hakstol said. "I haven't talked much about it, but who cares? We've heard it since September. Everybody waited throughout the regular season, as we went through different points, for our group to go away. . . to fall off."

The Kraken, who had a better record on the road (26-11-4) than at home (20-17-4) during the regular season, won three times in Ball Arena in the series โ€” Games 1, 5 and 7.

It's not the first time Hakstol has had success in the arena.

Hakstol's first time coaching there came in the 2007 NCAA regionals, when he was the head coach at UND.

UND beat Michigan 8-5 in the first round, then topped rival Minnesota 3-2 in overtime on a wraparound goal by captain Chris Porter to reach the NCAA Frozen Four.

On Sunday night, playing without 40-goal scorer Jared McCann, the Kraken used a pair of second-period goals from Oliver Bjorkstrand and 33 saves from Philipp Grubauer to complete the upset.

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"I thought Colorado was great tonight," Hakstol said. "They pushed us in every way you could imagine. Our goaltender was the best player on the ice and the rest of the guys in front battled as hard as they could."

Seattle has already made history this season.

After finishing with 60 points during its inaugural season, the Kraken had a 100-point season. The 40-point increase was the largest in NHL history from Year 1 to Year 2 for a franchise.

"Tonight was really indicative of the kind of season we've had," Hakstol said.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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