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At the Rink: Jets at Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane doesn't want to wait any longer.

Kane said he's ready for his breakout game of the 2014-15 season, even if the Jets' game Saturday against the New York Rangers is his third game of the season and his second since returning to the lineup from a knee injury.

"It's Madison Square Garden, Saturday night, in New York City," Kane said. It's going to come [Saturday]. As a line we know if we generate those scoring chances [from Thursday against the New Jersey Devils] we're going to score a lot more times than we're not."

Kane returned to the lineup Thursday after missing eight games with a knee injury he sustained when he collided with center Mark Scheifele on his third shift in Winnipeg's season-opening 6-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 9.

He returned to playing with Scheifele and right wing Blake Wheeler. As a line they combined for nine of Winnipeg's 25 shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Devils. Kane, Scheifele and Wheeler combined for 13 shot attempts.

Kane said he felt confident going into the game that his knee was in good shape, but he was more confident coming out of it because he knows now that his knee injury is in the past.

He said the only thing that was missing Thursday was his finishing touch, which he expects will come with more ice time.

"We had a lot of scoring chances," Kane said. "It was just the puck just didn't seem to bounce the right way. As a line we generated quite a bit, didn't play in our own end too much. But I think just that finish and just that polish will come. It takes a little time. I was pretty satisfied for my first game back but definitely looking for more [Saturday]."

Scheifele said Kane's speed was evident against the Devils. He also said the line's chemistry returned quickly.

"It already felt like we played together for a while," Scheifele said. "We have to continue to play like that. Be hard on the forecheck, be good defensively, and when we get those chances, bury them. It's exciting to have him back on the line."

Jets coach Paul Maurice said he liked how the line responded in Kane's first game back, saying it was a good sign they got back to generating quality scoring chances right away after gaining that chemistry in training camp.

"As a line they generated by far our best chances in that game," Maurice said. "They were in alone three times, a couple of 2-on-1s. I think it's there. [Kane] just needs some reps now, some work. But I liked a lot of what they can do.

"If they can play that game, get that kind of offense on a nightly basis, it is going to go for them."

The Jets are playing their third game on a four-game road trip that concludes Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. They have played two games since the last the time Rangers played one.

New York hasn't played since Monday, when it scored five goals in the third period to beat the Minnesota Wild. The Rangers will have two changes to their lineup from that game.

Defenseman Michael Kostka is replacing John Moore, who was suspended five games for an illegal check to the head of Wild center Erik Haula. Forward Kevin Hayes is coming back in to replace Ryan Malone.

Hayes was a healthy scratch against the Wild after playing in six consecutive games. Kostka hasn't played since Oct. 14, when two of his turnovers directly led to goals for the New York Islanders in a 6-3 loss for the Rangers.

With Moore out, Kostka has an opportunity to prove to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault that he can be relied on. New York did not recall a player in the wake of Moore's suspension, leaving it with six healthy and eligible defensemen.

Dan Boyle remains out with a hand injury.

"I didn't have one of my better games, that's for sure, but it's nice to know they have the confidence to throw me back in there," Kostka said. "I don't think anyone can be defined by one game, so I'm just focused on [Saturday] to do what I can. The past is left where it is."

Here are the projected lineups:


Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Mathieu Perreault - Adam Lowry - Dustin Byfuglien

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Paul Postma - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Matt Halischuk

Injured: Anthony Peluso (upper body)


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Martin St. Louis - Anthony Duclair

Carl Hagelin - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak

Kevin Hayes - Chris Mueller - Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Klein

Marc Staal - Dan Girardi

Matt Hunwick - Michael Kostka

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Ryan Malone

Suspended: John Moore

Injured: Dan Boyle (hand), Derek Stepan (leg)

Status report: Vigneault noted the Jets' speed when explaining why Hayes is back in the lineup for Malone. … Stepan skated with the Rangers in a yellow, non-contact jersey. He is eligible to come off long-term injured reserve in time to play Monday against the St. Louis Blues, but Vigneault isn't sure Stepan will be ready to play by then because Stepan hasn't taken part in a full-contact practice yet. … Vigneault said he expects Talbot to play as many as four games in November. The Rangers play 15, including two sets of back-to-backs. … The Jets are using the same lineup they used Thursday.

Who's hot: Nash is second to the Anaheim Ducks' Corey Perry for the League lead in goals with nine in nine games. Perry has played 12 games. … Enstrom has assists in back-to-back games and five assists in the past five games.


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