Seattle Kraken center Ryan Donato, rear, watches as the puck rests behind Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins following a breakaway attempt during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
SEATTLE — Alex Wennberg scored midway through the second period against his former team to help the Seattle Kraken beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night.
Wennberg, who was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round in 2013, had his 10th goal of the season in his 600th career game.
“Every now and then you pinch yourself in the arm and realize you’ve been in this league for a while,” Wennberg said. “So, it’s amazing. I just try to take in every moment of it.”
Morgan Geekie and Eeli Tolvanen also scored for Seattle, former Blue Jacket Oliver Bjorkstrand had an assist, and Phillip Grubauer made 24 saves.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol knew it was meaningful for his pair of former Blue Jackets to score a point against their former team.
“It’s good for them,” Hakstol said. “It obviously means a little bit extra to (Wennberg) and (Bjorkstrand) to be able to go out and play well and get a win. Whether those two are on the scoresheet or not, they are contributing. But it’s nice for them to be on the scoresheet.”
For Geekie, his goal was his first since Seattle’s 4-0 victory over Minnesota on Nov. 3.
Kent Johnson scored for Columbus in the second period, and goaltender Elvis Merzlikins stopped 28 shots. After Wennberg’s goal gave the Kraken a 2-0 lead, Johnson put Columbus on the board late in the second. Tolvanen scored at the 5:39 mark of the third to put the game at its final score.
It was Tolvanen’s eighth goal since making his Seattle debut on Jan. 1.
“The team is playing well. We have four lines that are playing really, really well every night,” Tolvanen said. “I think that’s our strength, that we have the four lines that can change the game.”
With the victory, the Kraken took sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division standings heading into the All-Star break.
“It means a lot,” Wennberg said. “It’s pretty much why we’re putting in all the work and the hard effort behind it, to be on top.”
For a banged-up team with several key players missing, the upcoming All-Star break is a welcome sight.
“For the guys that are in the lineup, this has been a hell of a month if you look at the miles we’ve traveled and the competitive games we’ve been in,” Hakstol said. “The group’s done a good job finding success, but we need a little break.”
The Kraken have not allowed a power-play goal in any of their past seven games, a new franchise record.
NOTES: The Blue Jackets placed LW Gustav Nyquist (upper body) on injured reserve, and claimed Vancouver center Lane Pederson off waivers. … Columbus recalled defenseman Jake Christiansen from the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. … Seattle’s Matty Beniers missed his second straight game after taking a hard hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON — Just when it appeared Washington fans would have little to worry about besides draft position over the next couple weeks, the short-handed Wizards delivered a dominating victory over one of the NBA's best teams.
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