It was two years in the making. The Columbus Blue Jackets finally made it to Finland for their Global Series games in Tampere. Their opponent was the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The Finns in the crowd were anxious for their hometown hero Patrik Laine and fellow countrymen Mikko Rantanen, Artturi Lehkonen, and Joonas Korpisalo. Game one of the series was not without excitement and the crowd got their money’s worth. Here is what went down.
The Avs struck early off the rush. A Newhook centering pass on a 3-on-2 rush found O’Connor in the slot, who ripped a wrister past Merzlikins.
COL Goal 1-0: O’Connor (Newhook, Johnson) 1:36
Colorado continued to control the play after the goal. The Jackets struggled to get the puck into the zone and get any quality shots.
Gavrikov went off for interference halfway through the period. Cogliano was slow to get up after the Gavrikov hit that led to the penalty. The Avs, unlike the Jackets, were able to cycle the puck on the power play. Compher, left alone in front of Elvis, was able to deflect a Toews point shot past the Columbus goalie.
COL PP Goal 2-0: Compher (Toews, Girard) 12:27
Nyquist went off for slashing shortly after the goal. That is not exactly what you want to see right after going down 2-0. The Jackets were able to kill off that penalty.
Despite the two goal deficit, Elvis looked poised and solid in net.
The Jackets had a chance to get back some momentum when Rantanen went to the box for slashing. In pure Blue Jacket fashion, the puck finally managed to cross the goal line, but the goal was waved off because Roslovic had poked the puck out from under the Colorado goalie.
Another early goal put the Jackets down 3-0. The Avs forecheck was all over the Jackets and forced them to cough up the puck. The swarm of maroon sweaters were able to get Elvis drawn out of net and Rantanen got the puck into the net.
COL Goal 3-0: Rantanen (Rodrigues, MacKinnon) 0:35
The Jackets went back to the power play right after the goal and the first power play goal of the season was the result. Just five seconds into the man advantage, Laine ripped a puck from up high and a Voracek deflection found the back of the net. Relief.
CBJ PP Goal 3-1: Voracek (Laine, Werenski) 1:35
Fear the Beard™️ pic.twitter.com/ZevPEPetfr— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 4, 2022
The power play goal created momentum for the Jackets and the first line was able to hem the Avs in their own zone. On a delayed penalty, Laine received a pass from Gaudreau on the left dot and was able to rip one five hole. A special moment for the hometown kid.
CBJ Goal 3-2: Laine (Gaudreau, Jenner) 7:16
TURN YOUR VOLUME UP pic.twitter.com/acyF9FQNDV— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 4, 2022
The Avs struggled to regain possession and a few more shifts stayed in their zone. A two many men penalty sent the Jackets back to the power play and gave them a chance to tie up the game. Both units generated good chances, but as the penalty wound down Gaudreau would go to the box for holding.
The Avs didn’t have much going on their power play and MacKinnon received a double minor as Nyquist went to net shorthanded. The first power play was killed off without the Jackets being able to get set up. The penalty filled second period continued when Gaudreau went off for high sticking, wiping out the second Columbus penalty kill. The Jackets were able to kill off that penalty as the period came to an end.
The Jackets were able to pick up where they left off in the second period. The fourth line cashed in when Robinson found Kuraly from behind the net. Kuraly rocketed the puck past Georgiev to tie the game. Credit Foudy for his neutral zone work that led to the scoring chance. From what we have seen from him so far this season, he deserves to remain in the lineup. Foudy was originally credited with the goal, but it was later changed to Kuraly. It is hard to believe, but Foudy is still looking for his first regular season NHL goal after scoring in the playoffs in 2020.
CBJ Goal 3-3: Kuraly (Foudy, Robinson) 2:32
Can we just give this goal to both Sean & Liam?? pic.twitter.com/zDhjVYnRAZ— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 4, 2022
Hunt went off for a double minor for high sticking shortly after the goal. Aside from Gaudreau hitting the post, the Jackets struggled to get set up. Laine went off for slashing with only a few seconds left in the second power play. The Avs were able to capitalize as Rantanen was able to get his second of the day.
COL PP Goal 4-3: Rantanen (Makar, MacKinnon) 8:54
With the renewed momentum, the Avs were able to kick it into high gear. MacKinnon found Makar at the point for the two goal lead.
COL Goal 5-3: Makar (MacKinnon, Rantanen) 10:49
The Jackets didn’t have much for the Avs the rest of the way. In storybook fashion, Rantanen was able to pot the empty net goal for the hat trick. What a cool moment for him.
COL EN Goal 6-3: Rantanen (MacKinnon, Toews) 18:56
The Jackets played a decent game, but it wasn’t good enough against a talented Avalanche team. The Avs controlled play for long stretches, but so did the Jackets. The first 21 minutes were sloppy and that was ultimately the difference in the game. If the Jackets can build upon the positives in this game, they will start to head in the right direction. That is easy to say, however, for the team that is currently sitting in last place in the NHL.
Rantanen was the first star of the game and it is hard to be mad at that. Laine also put up a goal and an assist as the two put on a show for their country. The two Finns combined for four goals and two assists.
The result wasn’t what the Jackets wanted, but it was a fun game to watch. The crowd was clearly having a great time and the game was entertaining. What a special night for the country of Finland and for the NHL. How about we do it again on Saturday?
The Jackets and the Avalanche are back at it from Tampere, Finland Saturday at 2:00PM ET.