Tue, 28 Mar 2023

Blue Jackets need big outing from Kirill Marchenko vs. Kraken

Field Level Media
28 Jan 2023, 22:55 GMT+10

Kirill Marchenko certainly has a nose for the net.

The Columbus Blue Jackets' rookie scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season in just 26 games in a 5-2 loss Friday at Vancouver.

The 22-year-old Russian has been one of the few bright spots for the Blue Jackets, who will enter Saturday night's game at the Seattle Kraken last in the NHL with just 33 points.

"You love to see him finish. He's got a really good shot," Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. "He's got a knack to get it by goalies, and that's a tough thing to do, especially at this level."

Though he's scoring at a 40-goal pace for an entire season, Marchenko has yet to record his first NHL assist.

Marchenko, a second-round pick in 2018, had a power-play goal in a 4-3 overtime loss Monday at Calgary, tied the score midway through the third period in a 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday at Edmonton, and tallied twice with the man advantage against the Canucks.

"What I've been impressed with is his pace has gotten a little bit better. I think he's understanding the speed of the league. I think he's understanding how he can get better with a lack of time and space because that's much different than how it is overseas," Larsen said. "He's learning like some other guys. He still has some ups and downs, but I think there's lots to be excited about with a kid like Marchenko."

Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 29 saves Friday for the Blue Jackets, who lost in regulation for the first time in four games (2-1-1).

The Kraken also lost in regulation for the first time in four games (2-1-1) Friday, dropping a 5-2 decision to visiting Calgary.

The loss left Seattle 10-3-1 in January and a point behind Los Angeles in the Pacific Division race.

"We weren't very good -- that's all," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. "Our group wasn't good. Especially in the middle portion of the game, we had no energy from top-to-bottom.

"We had one foot in and one foot out on a lot of plays. And when you get caught halfway in between, that's what it looks like."

John Hayden and Eeli Tolvanen scored for Seattle, and Martin Jones stopped 33 of 37 shots.

"We weren't there," Tolvanen said. "We played really sloppy in the first and second. We weren't creating much.

"I feel like it was just one of those days where we didn't show up. They were good. We have to give credit to them. They came out hard after a back-to-back, and they were ready when the puck dropped and we weren't."

The Kraken played Friday without Matty Beniers, their All-Star Game representative. Beniers, who appeared to bang his head on the ice following a hit by Vancouver's Tyler Myers in the second period of a 6-1 Seattle victory Wednesday, isn't expected to play against the Blue Jackets.

Beniers leads all rookies with 17 goals and 36 points and is considered the leading contender for the Calder Trophy, though Marchenko might work his way into the conversation if he continues scoring at his current pace.

--Field Level Media

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