Gudbranson’s outbursts cost Blue Jackets in loss to Panthers

Photo of Gudbrandson.

On Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, Erik Gudbranson took matters into his own hands, seeking revenge twice for a dangerous hit, resulting in accumulating enough penalty minutes to challenge the Columbus Blue Jackets’ all-time single-game record.

At a crucial moment, Gudbranson’s aggressive actions led the Blue Jackets into a seven-minute penalty kill during the third period, significantly influencing the closely contested game. Consequently, the Florida Panthers capitalized on this opportunity, securing a 5-2 victory in front of 16,269 spectators at Nationwide Arena. Notably, neither Gudbranson’s teammates nor the coach raised any concerns about his conduct.

Center Cole Sillinger affirmed, “Our group has no issue with it.”

The chaos unfolded in the opening moments of the third period, as the Blue Jackets were behind 2-1. Gudbranson, carrying the puck in the defensive zone, was unexpectedly hit from behind by Florida’s Nick Cousins, causing Gudbranson to be thrust headfirst into the boards.

Following this, Gudbranson crumpled onto the ice, sliding to a stop with his head hitting the back of the goal. Yet, in a matter of moments, he promptly recovered, retaliating against Cousins by forcefully slamming him into the glass and sparking a confrontation.

Initially, NHL officials penalized Cousins with a major penalty (boarding). However, upon review, the major was reduced to a minor penalty, leading to frustration from Gudbranson, the entire Blue Jackets bench, and the fans at Nationwide Arena.

Coach Pascal Vincent underscored Gudbranson’s character, portraying him as a “heart-and-soul” player vulnerable near the boards. Vincent argued that the hit deserved a five-minute major, suggesting that maintaining the initial call might have prevented the subsequent altercation.

The dispute extended to the penalty box, where Gudbranson and Cousins exchanged heated words across the scorer’s table during most of the two minutes, hinting at a possible continuation.

As anticipated, at 6:49 of the third period, Gudbranson, while retreating in his defensive position, confronted Cousins as the play entered the Blue Jackets’ zone. Gudbranson removed his gloves, grabbed Cousins in a bearhug, and slammed him to the ice. Despite Cousins seeking cover, Gudbranson delivered several right punches. While the ensuing scuffle seemed on the verge of a traditional brawl, order was eventually restored.


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