The Seattle Kraken used a goal and an assist from Alex Wennberg while Oliver Bjorkstrand grabbed an assist in his return to Columbus for the first time last summer’s trade in a 4-2 win for the Kraken over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Friday night.
The Kraken improved to 3-0 on their four-game trip, making a demonstrative push coming out of the trade deadline by holding firm to their roster, and extending their lead to nine points over the Calgary Flames for a playoff spot with 20 games to go.
COMPLETE RADIO GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, Wennberg, and Brandon Tanev, who had the empty netter to seal the game, all scored for the Kraken to answer Patrik Laine’s second period goal, and Adam Boqvist’s third period marker for Columbus.
Philipp Grubauer earned the win in net with 21 saves.
1. JARED MCCANN MAKES HISTORY. Jared McCann picked the right time to get hot again. His 30thgoal of the season marked the first 30-goal scorer in Kraken history, gathering a pass at the left circle to uncork a snap shot past the blocker of Elvis Merzlikins.
That shot is becoming trademark for McCann – quick, vicious, and precise. Since coming over from the Kraken, he’s belted 57 goals in 117 games. All of this after the Maple Leafs discarded him in the expansion draft, following a trade from Pittsburgh for Filip Hallander and a seventh round pick just so the Leafs could keep Alex Kerfoot.
Imagine if McCann was a trade deadline pickup? He’d be one we’re talking about for ages. He’s playing like he never wants to be traded ever again and is finding his footing in Seattle.
2. DEPTH PULLS THE KRAKEN THROUGH. First star Alex Wennberg returned to his former stomping grounds in Columbus to deliver a first star effort, an 11-of-22 mark at the face-off circle, two hits, and the game winning goal. Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle were in on the first two Kraken goals. Brandon Tanev proved once again he is an empty net grim reaper (fifth empty net snipe of the season). Oliver Bjorkstrand came into Columbus, his first visit since the trade that turned his world upside down while on a honeymoon and came out with an assist. Vince Dunn turned in a two-assist game, who at this point is functioning like a machine.
The results weren’t as robust as the 5-4 overtime victory in Detroit just 24 hours ago, but the Kraken again – like much of this season – found offense from nearly every corner with eight different players getting a point. Leaving the trade deadline, their put their fate into the hands of the recipe that got them here, with a system devoid of a mega star like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but an attack mentality layered throughout the lineup.
3. HOPE FOR THE BEST FOR BJORKSTRAND. The exact play that left Bjorkstrand limping off the ice was uncertain by late Friday night, but obviously left him in enough pain to remain off the ice for the remainder of the game. Dave Hakstol had to shuffle the lineup in Bjorkstrand’s absence, putting Brandon Tanev on the wing for a sequence totaling over two minutes. Amazingly, Tanev came through in the clutch to bury an empty netter, moments after Johnny Gaudreau hit the crossbar in a threat to tie the game.
Bjorkstrand’s play has boosted his results recently, totaling 10 goals in the last 30 games and at nearly a pace of a 28-goal output, his exact total last season in Columbus. He’s proven to generate quality play, leading the Kraken at five-on-five situations in shot attempts. He’s turned into a vital piece for a team still realistically in contention for the division title, not just a playoff berth, and leaving Kraken fans holding their breath for his progress.
The Kraken get back to play on Sunday at 6pm PT (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network), closing the road trip against the host Colorado Avalanche.
KRAKEN LINEUP AT COLUMBUS, 3/3: