When I wrote about the emotional opening of the Blue Jackets season on Thursday, I called it a night the team and fans will never forget.
Saturday’s game, meanwhile, was more like the type of game we all remember. It was like the good old days, a full barn on a weekend night trying to push the team to a close victory. And that’s exactly what The 5th Line got, like Eric robinson tied the game late and Patrik Laine won it in overtime as Columbus moved up to 2-0 with a 2-1 victory over Seattle.
And it’s fair to say that Nationwide Arena was really rocking for the first time in over 18 months. All night you could tell the packed house was looking for just about any reason to go crazy, and they finally got it with Robinson’s tying goal and then Laine’s winner.
âIt was awesome,â said Laine, who had never really seen such a scene on Nationwide given it was acquired early last season, when the pandemic kept spectator numbers capped throughout. ‘year. âIt’s always nice to have the overtime winner but seeing the fans for the first time when I score like that was a good feeling. Everyone was excited. I thought we had won both points. , and I was lucky to have this winning game. ”
Video: SEA @ CBJ: Laine shoots puck on short side for overtime win
Fortunate? It was more of a skill, but what he said that was true was that the Blue Jackets took the win. It was an easy game to frustrate, as Seattle’s disciplined team and big defensive body limited the Blue Jackets’ chances much more than Arizona did in their 8-2 win to open the season.
Columbus had just six shots on goal in the first period and 25 for the game, while Seattle finished just 20, showing just how harder it is to win ice than in the game. Thursday’s loose opening against the Coyotes.
But that was also what CBJ head coach Brad Larsen was looking for after being disappointed with the team’s play in the first win. He was happy that the Jackets scored eight goals and came away with a convincing victory – especially on such an emotional night – but he wanted to see the Blue Jackets play something much closer to their game.
That’s what he got on Saturday night.
âWe were much more connected to this game, that’s for sure mentally,â said the still undefeated head coach. “It was a chore. We had chances (to score) I think 2-1 or 3-1 us in the first. I think 6-4 for them (after two), and then even in the third period I think we only gave up two chances.
âStructurally we were better in a lot of areas that we approached as a group. We knew it would be a closer game there. It’s a great team. They have a great group there at the back. , heavier D. You must have fought for your ice cream tonight. ”
Slowly but surely, that’s what Columbus did, starting to open things up late in the second period after Brandon Tanev gave Seattle the lead, then really pushing for the tying goal in the third. Jack Roslovic and Gustav nyquist each approached in the first half of the frame before Robinson’s excellent goal in the race evened the score and put the Nationwide Arena back on its feet.
Video: SEA @ CBJ: Robinson goes far to level the game
From there, I wondered how Columbus would handle the transition from pushing to tie the game to make sure they were able to finish things and get at least a point, but the youngest team in the NHL did the job.
âI liked as a team that we figured out this one, that we had to stick with it,â said Larsen. âWe had to really dig to try and get back in the third period here. It was a 1-0 game going into the third, so one shot. We just said, don’t get frustrated, don’t implode. Here, Stick to the plan. I liked our third. I thought we insisted. They came towards us the last five minutes, which is pretty normal, but we hung on. ”
And in the end, Laine got off the schneid, the Airwolf theme played and the victory banners fell as the Jackets flew off the bench to assault the Finnish star and celebrate the victory.
“That’s why we have great fans and special fans”, goalkeeper Elvis merzlikins noted. “I think even this atmosphere that they give us, it was the chance to finish the game well, and it was great. It’s just beautiful, and it’s always nice to be in such a beautiful crowd and play at home. ”
Robinson gets one
Going from the 5th row to the fourth row, I had the feeling, at the start of the season, that the Robinson trio, center Sean kuraly and winger Gregory Hofmann would be a thorn in the side of opposing teams at the start of the season.
That line was exactly that, as they gave Seattle adjustments throughout and scored the deciding goal midway through the third period when Hofmann got the puck on the rush to Robinson, who sped up into the right circle and let go of a wrist from the face-off point that just snuck inside the far post to tie the game.
âWe have to be a high energy line,â Robinson said. “We’re all pretty quick guys so we have to move our legs. We had a few chances there in the second end and the third. It was good to have one there.”
And as Larsen says, while the main goal of this unit is to use their speed to their advantage and return the ice for Columbus, there is offensive talent in the line as well. Robinson scored a career-high eight goals last year in the shortened season and showed great offensive instincts although he hasn’t always been able to finish. Kuraly is not a great scorer but has some skill in his game, while Hofmann has been a top scorer abroad and has the knack to move up the roster once his game s ‘is acclimatized to the smallest ice, said Larsen.
It should be a fun threesome to watch for as long as it lasts.
âI think we’re on the same page,â Robinson said. “We can be a really effective front chess line, stalking D out there, getting right into their pockets and wreaking havoc on them and thus being able to spend minutes in the offensive zone.”
Find the Kraken
With Seattle making its very first visit to Nationwide Arena (and only playing its third game), I went to the lobby pre-game and wanted to chat with a few fans wearing Kraken sweaters.
There is always enthusiasm for an expansion team, both in the city they play in and in the sport’s fan base in general. This is especially true for a Kraken team whose logo and blue color scheme has led to a buzzing product sale so far.
The first fan I found was Bowling Green, Ohio, a native of Devon Dohanos, a Pittsburgh Penguins fan who wore a white Yanni Gourde jersey.
âI thought these jerseys were cool so I got one,â Dohanos said. “I saw they were playing in Ohio so I’m here.”
So there was a fan on the ‘cool stuff’ list, but across the street I saw a group of about seven or eight people wearing Kraken shirts / shirts, so I thought it must be a group. a little more based in Seattle. And I was right, because I chatted with Eric Pettigrew, a former Washington state lawmaker who came to Columbus for the game (as well as the Seahawks’ Sunday night football competition in Pittsburgh).
It helps that Pettigrew has family in Cincinnati – his daughter’s in-laws are from Queen City – and he “loves the whole state” of Ohio. So it was an easy trip to see his very first Kraken game, and the original Los Angeles native also works for the team.
âI’ve been a hockey fan my whole life,â said Pettigrew. âI grew up being a fan of the LA Kings. For years, I tried to get everyone to bring hockey to Seattle. Everyone was focusing on baseball and football, so when the Leiwekes finally made the decision to come to Seattle, I tell you, I was done with that. ”
There was no shortage of Seattle gear in the arena, and I would expect that to be the case as we go along. So shout out to the visiting fans, who at least got a point for their troubles.
Statistics and facts
- This is the fifth time in franchise history that Columbus has started a season with wins in its first two games, the last coming in 2014-15. Has it really taken that long?
- One night after the opening with a 2-on-3 power-play performance, the Blue Jackets didn’t get a chance to have the one-man advantage over the Kraken. Seattle, meanwhile, only got one and didn’t score.
- Columbus has been appalling in overtime the past two seasons, including a record (6-9-3) last year, so being 1-0 is a good start.
- Seattle’s 1-0 lead after Tanev’s goal marked the first time in franchise history that the Kraken scored first.
- Columbus is now 2-1 all-time in his very first encounter with the expansion teams. The Blue Jackets beat their expanding cousin Minnesota in their first encounter in the 2000-01 season, but lost to Vegas in the inaugural game against the Golden Knights in 2017-18.
- Hofmann’s assist on Robinson’s goal was his very first point in the NHL. The 28-year-old NHL freshman has 324 points (165-159) in 485 games in 12 National League A seasons in his home country of Switzerland.
- Laine’s game winner was his first with Columbus and the 19th of his NHL career.