The Seattle Kraken won their first-ever playoff series in style Sunday night, advancing to Round 2 with a 2-1 road win over the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in Game 7.
Seattle moves on to face the Dallas Stars, who eliminated the Minnesota Wild earlier this week.
Kraken forward Oliver Bjorkstrand delivered a key performance in the series finale, scoring twice. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was also a difference-maker, posting 33 saves against his former team.
Seattle is the first team in NHL history to earn its first series win against a reigning Cup winner, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika. Colorado has now lost six consecutive Game 7s dating back to 2002.
The Avalanche were heavy favorites heading into the playoffs after finishing nine points clear of the Kraken in the regular-season standings. However, they fell way short of a run at repeating as champions with a largely different roster from the one that lost only four of 20 playoff games last year.
“I don’t think anybody on our side thought they were going to sweep us here in four games,” Grubauer said, per Root Sports. “Obviously, we grew together throughout that series, and we had lots to learn. That was an unbelievable performance by everybody and it’s not going to get easier from here on out.”
He added, “We are resilient, and if we play the right way, we can beat anybody in this league, and we can beat the best.”
The Kraken advanced without leading goal-scorer Jared McCann, who was hurt on a controversial hit from Cale Makar in Game 5, and former Avalanche sniper Andre Burakovsky, who was limited to 49 contests this season due to injury.
Seattle’s first playoff triumph comes in its second season of existence. The Kraken earned 100 points on the year, a 40-point improvement from their inaugural campaign as the league’s 32nd franchise.
Game 1 of the Kraken-Stars series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Dallas.