Bjorkstrand is back in Columbus, but wears the wrong colors now. As a reminder, Jarmo was forced to trade Bjorkstrand to Seattle for next to nothing after signing Johnny Gaudreau. The earlier signing of Erik Gudbranson to a 4 year, $16 million contract eventually led to the Blue Jackets being over the cap limit.
The Kraken came into the game in a playoff spot. It took the Blue Jackets eight seasons to make the playoffs. The Golden Knights did it in their first year and it’s looking like the Kraken will do it in their second. The Kraken have already drafted two top line center prospects, something the Jackets have never done. I will forever be bitter.
In all 7 seasons he spent in the Union Blue, Ollie always embodied what it meant to be a Blue Jacket.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 4, 2023
Welcome back to Columbus, Bjorky pic.twitter.com/n11I96vAif
Anyway, a game was played. The Jackets played decently well, but the Kraken out skilled and out executed the home team and came away with the win. Here’s how it played out.
Bjorkstrand and Wennberg started the game for the Kraken. The Jackets had a slow start to the game, but they managed to even things up by the period’s halfway point.
Wennberg went to the box for slashing to give the Jackets the first power play of the night. They managed several good chances, four shots in total, but Grubauer kept the puck out of the net.
Sillinger made a great play late in the period. He poked the puck forward out of mid-air and then won a foot race to give him self a breakaway. Unfortunately, he was not able to capitalize.
Shortly after, Olivier sailed the puck out of the zone for a delay of game penalty. The penalty kill unit did a great job of not giving up any shots close to the net. Elvis also made a nice blocker save to keep the score even.
With four seconds left, Geekie went to the box for interference. He blatantly crosschecked Boqvist in front of the net to get open for a pass. It was the kind of dumb penalty that would get you benched by Torts.
The second line was the best line in the first period. They didn’t produce the most offense, but they did a great job of keeping the puck away from the Kraken. Seattle had the most shots on net and shot attempts at 5v5, but Columbus skated away with the 0.85 to 0.56 expected goals advantage.
The Jackets only managed one shot on their power play to start the period. The Kraken were able to kill off the penalty without much worry.
Berni went to the box for holding only a few seconds later. Elvis made a couple very good saves. The Kraken moved the puck well on their power play, but ultimately came up empty.
The Kraken started pushing, but Schultz hooked Robinson to kill their momentum. The Jackets weren’t able to get a goal, but immediately went back to the power play when Seattle got a bench minor for too many men. The fourth time was the charm as Laine wristed one past Grubauer. Boqvist made a great play to keep the puck in the zone and managed to save the puck right to Laine’s stick.
CBJ PP Goal 1-0: Laine (Boqvist, Gaudreau) 10:18
photo Finnish pic.twitter.com/n0PafGgKPW— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 4, 2023
Berni went to the box for the second time for interference. It wasn’t really a penalty as Bjorkstrand went down on his own, but the Kraken got a power play nonetheless. McCann took advantage and scored a goal nearly identical to Laine’s.
SEA PP Goal 1-1: McCann (Bjorkstrand, Dunn) 13:20
Seattle scored again after a blocked shot. They quickly pushed the puck the other way and McCann created a rebound on a low shot. Eberle grabbed the rebound and put it five hole on Elvis.
SEA Goal 2-1: Eberle (McCann, Wennberg) 14:08
The Kraken owned the period at 5v5. They outshot the Jackets 8-2 and led in unblocked shot attempts 12-5. The undisciplined play the Seattle kept Columbus in the game through two periods.
Five minutes into the period, Laine lined up a shot that was blocked by Boqvist who gathered the puck at his feet and tied the game. Boqvist now has 2-3-5 in his last 6 games.
CBJ Goal 2-2: Boqvist (Laine, Gudbranson) 4:53
Boqvist brings the @BlueJacketsNHL even! #CBJ pic.twitter.com/oKhXzQqykc— Bally Sports Columbus (@BallySportsCBUS) March 4, 2023
Jenner went to the box for tripping shortly after, but McCann will likely be up for an Oscar for his part of the performance. Wennberg made a nice move in front of the net after receiving a pass from Tolvanen and shoved the puck past Elvis.
SEA PP Goal 3-2: Wennberg (Tolvanen, Dunn) 7:12
The Jackets nearly scored late in the period. Gaudreau rang a shot of the post and crossbar and then was absolutely robbed by a sprawling Grubauer. Unfortunately, Tanev was able to pot the empty netter to ice the game.
SEA EN Goal 4-2: Tanev (unassisted) 19:12
The former Jackets played well tonight. Bjorkstrand and Wennberg combined for one goal and two assists. It’s nice to see those guys being successful in Seattle, but it’s tough realizing how much this current Columbus team would benefit from having both on the roster.
Speaking of Bjorkstrand, he left the game early and did not return. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
The referees deserve some criticism for their performance in this one. The called two phantom penalties on the Jackets, both of which resulted in goals, and missed a double minor high stick in the third period that left McCann with a bloody lip. I realize it’s a hard job, but come on.
Seattle’s power play and their ability to finish was the difference in this game. The 5v5 expected goals were even, but the Kraken led 4.21-2.89 in all situations.
Elvis had a good night despite the loss. He saved 1.21 goals above expected and ended the night with a .912 save percentage.
The Blue Jackets fly to Ottawa to take on the Senators for the second leg of a back-to-back. The puck drops at 7:00PM ET.