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Sports >  NHL

Alex Wennberg burns his former team with game winner as Kraken beat Blue Jackets

March 3, 2023 Updated Fri., March 3, 2023 at 8:51 p.m.

By Kate Shefte Seattle Times

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jared McCann hit 30 goals for the first time in his NHL career with his fourth in three games, Alex Wennberg burned his former team with the game-winner and the Kraken followed up three straight losses with three straight wins – the latest a 4-2 victory at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

McCann, who also had an assist, becomes the first player in Kraken franchise history to have a 30-goal season.

The Kraken let the league-worst Blue Jackets hang around well into the third period.

The Blue Jackets hit the cross bar and were stopped by a diving Philipp Grubauer (21 saves) while attempting to send the game to overtime.

Matty Beniers had one of the first period’s best chances when he took the puck end-to-end with help, briefly tossing it to Adam Larsson and then Jordan Eberle, before testing Columbus goaltender Elvis Merzlikins’ glove.

Wennberg spotted the Blue Jackets a power play they didn’t take advantage of.

Columbus flirted with danger during a second-period penalty kill of their own.

Erik Gudbranson blocked two blasts from Eeli Tolvanen, and the Blue Jackets let the Kraken creep close to the crease several times before breaking up the chances.

Patrik Laine scored the Blue Jackets’ first on a power play just past the game’s midway mark. The Kraken penalty kill had gone eight games without allowing a goal.

The Kraken weren’t getting anything past Gudbranson on the right side of the ice, so McCann tried his luck on the left and tied the game. He then put a shot off Merzlikins’ pads off the rush and the rebound fired out to Jordan Eberle, who offered the Kraken their first lead.

Oliver Bjorkstrand made his return to the only other NHL city he’s called home. He came in on a high note, having scored in overtime in Detroit the previous night.

He left on a concerning one, departing the third period with a lower-body injury. Coach Dave Hakstol offered no update after the game.

Wennberg is another former Blue Jacket and received polite applause when his name was announced as part of Seattle’s starting lineup. No more of that in the third period. Nine seconds into a Blue Jackets power play shortly after they tied the game at 2, Wennberg spun and fired in front of the net to give Seattle another lead. Tolvanen got him the puck from the boards.

It was Wennberg’s first goal since Jan. 28 – the last time Seattle faced Columbus.

Brandon Tanev added an empty-net goal for the final score.

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