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Jets look to Kane for spark in return from injury

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane hopes his return Monday at the Columbus Blue Jackets can help put an end to a three-game winless streak.

Kane has missed the past six games since Dec. 2 with a lower-body injury, but will play alongside new linemates in Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik.

"Getting the legs going is probably the biggest thing, hopefully feeling the puck early on and putting the puck in their zone," Kane said. "Getting on the forecheck and getting some scoring opportunities is what I'm trying to do the first period."

Kane had seven goals and seven assists in 26 games before the injury. The Jets (14-15-5) went 2-3-1 in his absence.

"It will be good to get him back in the game," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "He just needs to get himself going the best he can. How much he'll play is to be determined by different factors. He's a guy that can have an impact on the game and create some offense."

The Jets not only lost 6-4 at home to the Dallas Stars on Saturday, but forward Matt Halischuk sustained a fractured forearm and underwent surgery the next day.

Also, forward Anthony Peluso starts serving a three-game suspension for boarding Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski.

Eric Tangradi will replace Peluso on a line with James Wright and rookie center John Albert, the Cleveland-born former Ohio State player who will have at least 35 friends and family members in Nationwide Arena for his first NHL game in his home state.

Meanwhile, Noel said backup goalie Al Montoya will start for Ondrej Pavelec, who's winless in his past four games.

The Blue Jackets (14-15-4) will go with the same lineup as Saturday, meaning third-string goaltender Mike McKenna will make his second straight start because of injuries to Sergei Bobrovsky and backup Curtis McElhinney.

Richards said McElhinney, who sustained a lower-body injury Thursday against the New York Rangers, skated Monday but no timetable is set for his return. Bobrovsky (groin) may get on the ice net week.

Forward Nick Foligno (upper body) made it through the morning skate and coach Todd Richards expects him to face the Jets along with forward RJ Umberger, although he missed practice Monday due to a personal matter.

Defenseman James Wisniewski (upper body) and forward Marian Gaborik (left knee) might return Thursday at the Philadelphia Flyers. Forward Nathan Horton, who has not played this season after undergoing left shoulder surgery in July, is getting close to be being cleared to play.

"It's tough to narrow down a specific date," Richards said of Horton. "I can pretty confidently tell you it won't be before Christmas."

The game has added meaning for Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, a native of Brandon, Manitoba.

Calvert has been a spark for the Blue Jackets since his return Nov. 22 from missing 19 games due to an abdominal injury. He has seven points (4-3) and a plus-5 rating in 14 games this season and showed his value Saturday in the 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

"He missed a lot of time and that was a huge hole for us," Richards said.

Here are the projected lineups for Winnipeg at Columbus on Monday:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Chris Thorburn - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi

James Wright - John Albert - Eric Tangradi

Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom

Jacob Trouba - Grant Clitsome

Keaton Ellerby - Mark Stuart

Al Montoya

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso (suspended)

Injured: Zach Bogosian (groin), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia), Matt Halischuk (fractured forearm)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Blake Comeau

Mark Letestu - Derek MacKenzie - Corey Tropp

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - David Savard

Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Mike McKenna

Jeremy Smith

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Jack Skille

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Curtis McElhinney (lower body), James Wisniewski (upper body), Jared Boll (left foot), Marian Gaborik (left knee), Nathan Horton (left shoulder)

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