Coming off of an emotional opening night and dominant win vs the lowly Arizona Coyotes, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked to maintain their momentum against the expansion Seattle Kraken. The only lineup change for Columbus was Scott Harrington subbing in for Dean Kukan. Wes McCauley was the head official tonight, immediately making this game at least 20% more fun.
Jersey matchup tonight: Blue Jackets Home against the Kraken Away. Honestly, it worked better than I was expecting, as the red trim in Seattle played off of the red trim and pants of the hosts in a nice way. Still not stellar, still too much navy, and the Kraken’s S is HUGE on the Away. That plus their Climate Pledge helmet ad drops an already-mediocre matchup from 3/5 stars to 2.5.
The Kraken won the opening draw, kicking off a high-pace, back-and-forth period. Jakub Voracek won a couple of puck battles early to start some nice movement for the offense. Man, I missed Voracek so much.
A couple of Blue Jackets opportunities in the first 10 minutes. Robinson and Hofmann failed to convert on some net-front chaos initiated by a high-point shot around the 5-minute mark, and a few minutes later Bjorkstrand failed to continue Werenski’s nice feed to Roslovic.
Around the midway point of the period, Max Domi was visibly shaken after taking a hit. He’d finish the current shift, but left for the locker room with six remaining. Hopefully he didn’t reaggravate his shoulder injury. As that was happening, Kuraly sent a fantastic feed from Robinson a hair right.
Roslovic would wrap the period for the CBJ offense with a nice chance in the slot after a Kraken turnover. Grubauer sent the save to the corner. The Kraken would pressure for the last minute or so, but the D stood strong to hit the buzzer.
Early impressions of the Kraken? They’re a big team. Very big. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the squad is 6-foot-2 or higher. Still sneaky fast and with a fair bit of speed. Speedy period too; the first intermission started less than 35 minutes after puck drop. The 0-0 score does not reflect the energy tonight.
The Blue Jackets would start the period on the penalty kill, as rookie Cole Sillinger would take a pretty blatant cross-checking penalty 17 seconds in. The Kraken would get a great chance off a deflection’s rebound, but the puck bounced over the sticks of Eberle and Donato.
Max Domi had returned to the bench for the start of the second, but would again leave around a third of the way through the middle period. Again, a CBJ chance as he went in, as Bjorkstrand sent a Roslovic dish high from the slot. Roslovic would create another opportunity at the game’s midpoint, splitting the Seattle defense only to send the puck a smidge left. Domi would later get his first shift of the second frame around 12 minutes in, and get a decent chance from Werenski to boot.
Laine would get a breakaway off of a Kraken turnover for the best CBJ chance to date, but was unable to get the puck past Philipp Grubauer. He then collected the rebound, spun around, and got the puck to a pinching Werenski, but Grubauer would again make the save.
Approximately a minute later, a bad turnover by Sillinger would give Jordan Eberle a good opportunity that went high. Shortly after, Brandon Tanev would almost literally go over Bjorkstrand to get to a loose puck, before deking Merzlikins to his stomach and roofing the puck. 1-0 Kraken, assist from Donato. Not the best goal to give up, but then again when is there a good one?
KRAKEN GOAL - Brandon Tanev from Ryan Donato - 14:32 2nd Period, 1-0 Kraken
In response, the top line and pair would put some sustained offensive pressure on the Kraken. Encouraging to see, but nothing forthcoming for the boys in Union Blue. That being said, that Laine-Texier-Voracek line has been having some trouble getting the puck out of their end. Something to keep an eye on in the last period and beyond.
The Blue Jackets came out a completely different team in the third, controlling the pace and getting a plethora of chances. Domi would send an opportunity high in an early 3-on-2, while Roslovic and Nyquist would post shots off the, well, post.
The chances kept flowing as the third approached it’s middle, culminating in Boone Jenner initiating a scrum by giving Grubauer a love tap into his own net. Shortly after, Scott Harrington would send a clearing feed up to Hofmann that would go through his feet. However, Eric Robinson turned on the burners, beat the Kraken defensemen to the puck, and slide the puck over the glove of Grubauer. Back even in NWA.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Eric Robinson from Gregory Hofmann and Scott Harrington - 10:07 3rd Period, 1-1
The Jackets would continue the pressure, as over the next few minutes Bjorkstrand, Sillinger, and Roslovic had chances miss. Commenter Gr8fulnfa summarized the vibe of the game pretty well: “It’s a bit odd. Seeing there are only 35 shots (the shot battle would end 25-20 for Columbus), you’d think the game is a defensive struggle. But it’s very open and free flowing.”
However, the flow of CBJ chances started decreasing towards the end of Regulation. The Kraken began pinning the Blue Jackets in the last couple minutes, but Elvis was able to stay strong and keep the puck out. TIME FOR BONUS HOCKEY!
The opening unit of Zach, Bjorkstrand, and Nyquist came out flying, and had some good time in the offenseive zone. Voracek would also get a puck on Grubauer, while Laine would put a bit too much sauce on a pass to Domi. However, after saying an earlier opportunity was “probably the worst try I’ve ever seen,” Patrik Laine would call game by putting the biscuit under Grubauer’s glove and in the net. JACKETS WIN BABY!
BLUE JACKETS GOAL - Patrik Laine from Zach Werenski and Max Domi - 2:16 Overtime, 2-1 Blue Jackets
Share your thoughts on the game below. Next one’s a 7:30 start from Detroit on Tuesday.