Laine plays for Blue Jackets after recovering from elbow sprain

Patrik Laine returned from an elbow injury for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Arizona Coyotes at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

The forward was expected to be out 3-4 weeks because of an elbow sprain sustained during a 4-1 season-opening loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 12. Health permitting, Laine could be available for the 2022 NHL Global Series on Nov. 4-5 in his hometown of Tampere, Finland, where the Blue Jackets will play two games against the Colorado Avalanche.

“I felt pretty good the last four or five days,” Laine said. “So I was kind of kind of surprised how good I was feeling that quickly after the injury, but I’m not going to complain. It’s more fun to be out here a couple of weeks early than later and obviously excited to get out there and actually play those games. It hasn’t been that long, but I’m so excited to go. It’s been tough watching these games on TV, so happy to be back and hopefully help the guys out.”

Laine was at right wing with Johnny Gaudreau and center Boone Jenner at the morning skate. It’s where he started the season by scoring 11 seconds into the second period before his right arm appeared to get sandwiched between Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce and the end boards, bending awkwardly at the elbow. He finished his shift with 13:15 remaining in the period, came back to the bench and was examined by a trainer before heading to the dressing room. He had two shots on goal and played 7:49.

“The medical guys always do a good job with injuries,” Laine said. “It just happened to go a little bit shorter this time, which was awesome for me. If I did [have restrictions], I wouldn’t be playing today. I’m all ready to go, 100 percent. That’s it.”

The Blue Jackets (3-4-0) won three of four entering Tuesday after an 0-3-0 start.

Laine was second on Columbus with 26 goals in 56 games last season, behind Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) and has 328 points (177 goals, 151 assists) in 408 NHL games with the Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets.

“I had no idea how long he would be out,” Gaudreau said. “A lot of us selfishly wanted him back as quickly as possible, but we needed him to get better. It’s great to see him back a week or two early earlier than expected. We got really comfortable playing with each other for two three weeks there and I’m sure [the chemistry] will be fine.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Craig Merz contributed to this report

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