DUCKS (20-6-5) at JETS (15-9-6)
TV: FS-W, CITY
WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will have left wing Evander Kane back in their lineup when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
Kane served a two-game suspension this week for his hit from behind on Anaheim defenseman Clayton Stoner at MTS Centre on Dec. 7. The suspension was the first of Kane’s career.
Kane, who has four goals this season, will skate with center Adam Lowry and right wing Matt Halischuk against the Ducks, who won their sixth consecutive game 4-2 against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
“It’s no fun sitting out,” Kane said. “I’m looking forward to playing tonight.
“Lowry is a big, strong guy down low. He has played pretty well as of late. And then you have [Halischuk], who is a real hard worker and gets on [opponents] quickly. He has some underestimated skill and can make some plays.”
Coach Paul Maurice says that Kane’s spot on the third line is based on him not wanting to alter Winnipeg’s top two lines. Along with the top line of left wing Andrew Ladd, center Bryan Little and right wing Blake Wheeler, Maurice has a second line of Mark Scheifele centering left wing Mathieu Perreault and right wing Michael Frolik.
“You look at trying to not disrupt what you like,” Maurice said. “[Frolik] has something going with [the second line]. I also think that Lowry and Halischuk following the puck the way they’ve been on it, I’d like to keep the zone time they’ve had. They’ve had some really good chances. A shooter [like Kane] on that line would good.
“Disrupt as little as you possibly can if you’re overall generally pleased with the way that your team is playing.”
The Jets begin a four-game homestand Saturday and Maurice said that he has been happy with his players’ consistency. The Jets have points in their past eight games (5-0-3) and in 19 of their past 23 games (13-4-6).
“I’ve said before, [competing] is the best thing we do,” Maurice said.
However, Anaheim leads the NHL with 45 points and is tied for the NHL lead in wins (20) with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I think there’s an excitement now about this game here tonight,” Maurice said. “One of the best teams in the League, and they’re fast. So, you’re on or you lose.”
The Ducks continue their five-game road trip against Winnipeg and are in the middle of a stretch of seven of eight games on the road.
The Ducks did not have a morning skate Saturday after a late arrival from Edmonton.
Goaltender Michael Hutchinson will start for the Jets. Frederik Andersen has started 17 consecutive games for the Ducks. If Andersen does not start, backup Jason LaBarbera is available. LaBarbera dressed Friday after missing five games with a hand injury.
Here are the projected lineups:
Rene Bourque – Ryan Getzlaf – Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Kesler – Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano – Rickard Rakell – Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon – Nate Thompson – Tim Jackman
Ben Lovejoy – Cam Fowler
Sami Vatanen – Clayton Stoner
Colby Robak – Hampus Lindholm
Scratched: Mark Fistric, Chris Wagner
Injured: Francois Beauchemin (finger), Eric Brewer (foot), John Gibson (groin), Corey Perry (knee)
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault – Mark Scheifele – Michael Frolik
Evander Kane – Adam Lowry – Matt Halischuk
Chris Thorburn – Jim Slater – Anthony Peluso
Ben Chiarot – Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy – Paul Postma
Scratched: Julien Brouillette, TJ Galiardi
Injured: Zach Bogosian (lower body), Grant Clitsome (undisclosed), Toby Enstrom (lower body)
Status report: Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy played Friday after missing 21 games with a broken finger. Lovejoy skated 18:12 in his first game since Oct. 26…Ducks right wing Corey Perry (knee) will miss his fourth consecutive game…Winnipeg left wing TJ Galiardi, who played two games this week with Kane out after being a healthy scratch for 11 consecutive games, will not dress against Anaheim.
Who's hot: Ducks right wing Kyle Palmieri (two goals, three assists) and center Ryan Kesler (four goals, two assists) extended their point streaks to four games Friday…Ladd also has a four-game point streak (three goals, four assists).