Making his first return to Columbus since being traded to the Kraken, all eyes were on Oliver Bjorkstrand Friday night as Seattle continued its four-game road trip. But, it would be a different former Blue Jacket who would score the game-winning goal in the third period and take the spotlight. Alex Wennberg scored a power-play goal in the final 20 that put the Kraken ahead in a 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
“Obviously, it’s really nice to get that goal,” Wennberg said. “I think the last time I scored a goal was against Columbus as well. So I mean, it’s a little nice for me to come and play your old team and have that success to score goals. But I mean, right now, it doesn’t really matter who scores. We got to win these games. It’s back-to-back and it’s a huge game to step up and get this win. We’ll take it and move on.”
The Kraken have started their four-game road trip with three-straight wins. Wennberg would add an assist on the night. He was originally a first-round draft pick by Columbus in 2013 and played six seasons with the Blue Jackets.
After Adam Boqvist scored on a rebound to tie the game 2-2 at 4:53 of the third period, Seattle went on a power play. Wennberg was in front of the net; he pivoted and slid the puck past goalie Elvis Merzlikins for his 11th of the season and gave the Kraken a 3-2 lead.
Brandon Tanev scored an empty-net goal for the second game in a row, at 19:12 to finish the 4-2 final.
“We were pretty consistent throughout a lot of specialty teams,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “On a back-to-back, I’d rather see a little bit more five-on-five, but you know, really consistent effort.”
Jared McCann scored a goal to become the first Kraken to reach the 30-goal mark and added an assist. Jordan Eberle scored a goal, and Vince Dunn had two assists for the Kraken (35-26-6), who will wrap up their trip in Colorado on Sunday. Philipp Grubauer made 21 saves.
Patrik Laine and Boqvist each had a goal and assist for Columbus (20-36-5), who end the season series against Seattle 0-2-0. Elvis Merzlikins gave the Blue Jackets a chance by making 31 saves.
Laine broke up what looked like a goalie battle with a snipe on the power play at 10:18 of the second period to make it 1-0.
“We’ve been good on the PK,” Hakstol said. “When you make a mistake against that guy, he’s gonna find a hole and it was an elite shot on his part. But, we’ve been good [on the PK]. We’ve been consistent and working hard there.”
The Kraken would react, scoring twice in less than a minute. It would be McCann first, who blasted a shot from the top of the circle, which is becoming his favorite shooting spot, at 13:20 to tie the game at 1-1. It was the third straight game he has at least one goal, and this one was his 30th.
“It’s awesome,” McCann said of scoring 30 for the first time in his career. “Like, it’s great, but at the same time, we’re still trying to accomplish something as a team and we have a great group of guys in here that I’m happy that things stayed the way they were.”
McCann would be involved in the second goal of the period, at 14:08 to give the Kraken a 2-1 lead. McCann’s shot was stopped by Merzlikins, but the rebound went to Eberle who quickly fired it on net and scored his 14th goal and 50th point this season.
Merzlikins kept Blue Jackets in it
Seattle led in nearly every offensive category and could have won the game a lot easier if it weren’t for Merzlikins.
The Kraken outshot Columbus 35-23, including an 11-5 advantage in the second period. On top of those numbers, Seattle took 55.6 percent of the shot attempts while at 5-on-5, and had 71 percent of the shot advantage in the second period.
- Bjorkstrand played just over 12 minutes, and had an assist, but left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game, and Hakstol did not have an update after.
- Eberle joined McCann as the second Kraken player to have a 50-point season.
- Earlier on Friday, the NHL Trade Deadline expired with the Kraken not making any moves.
- Seattle was 2-for-5 with the power play.
Exciting win. The Kraken battled hard and never let up. Grubauer looked very good in net. Vibes are good.