If the Columbus Blue Jackets are supposed to be tanking, they didn’t get the memo.
The Blue Jackets, who have the fewest points in the league and therefore the best chance to get presumptive No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard in the NHL draft this summer, defeated the host Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Tuesday to extend their points streak to three games (2-0-1).
Columbus is 4-1-2 over the past seven entering a Friday home game against the Seattle Kraken.
Eric Robinson netted his first NHL hat trick against the Sabres.
“It’s really nice,” Robinson said. “Any time you get one goal in the NHL it’s pretty special, so cool night for me, for sure.”
Robinson scored in each period, including an empty-netter with 35 seconds remaining.
“It’s kind of natural to think (about a hat trick after scoring two goals), but it’s been at least 12 or 15 years since I’ve had one,” said Robinson, a 27-year-old who has 33 goals in 241 NHL games. “Doesn’t come naturally, that’s for sure.”
Boone Jenner added a goal and an assist for Columbus, Kent Johnson also scored and Elvis Merzlikins made 38 saves.
“I think, for our process, these are important games for us,” Jenner said. “To find that way that we want to play and how we’re going to play and how we’re going to win games in this league and realize how hard it is and what’s our recipe to make that happen.
“We’ve been, as of late, playing some good hockey. It’s something to build off for us. Obviously, not the spot we want to be in, but we’ve got to work on our game here.”
The Kraken will be playing the second end of a back-to-back set after working overtime for a 5-4 victory Thursday night in Detroit.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, traded from Columbus to Seattle in an offseason salary dump, and Jared McCann both scored twice for the Kraken, with Bjorkstrand netting the overtime winner on a power play with 1:27 left. McCann has a team-leading 29 goals, breaking his career high of 27 set last season.
The Kraken are 2-0-0 on their four-game trip that concludes Sunday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The Kraken, in their second season, are ahead of the Edmonton Oilers on a tiebreaker for third place in the Pacific Division and are seven points clear of the Calgary Flames for the Western Conference’s final wild-card playoff berth.
“This is a fun time of year to play hockey when you are looking at the standings and you’re trying to make a push to get into the postseason in year two,” said Seattle forward Jordan Eberle, who had two assists against the Red Wings. “A lot of these guys are from the foundation, which is a lot of fun as well.
“I don’t think many people expect us to make the jump we’ve made.”
The Kraken defeated Columbus 3-1 on Jan. 28 in Seattle in their final game before the All-Star break. Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves and Eeli Tolvanen, Morgan Geekie and Alex Wennberg scored for the hosts. Johnson scored for the Blue Jackets.
–Field Level Media