ST. PAUL, Minn. — Moron or psychic?
It’s hard to say which about the fan, likely from Winnipeg, that threw the hat on the ice before Evander Kane’s shootout attempt Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Kane already had two goals in the game, and even a shootout marker wouldn’t count as an official hat trick.
But Kane liked the thought, actually, and he didn’t flinch, wiring a shot high into the net past Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom to send the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 shootout win with the final shot of the game.
"I was thinking that it was good that somebody was thinking that I was going to score," Kane beamed after the game, having scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season during regulation time.
"I knew what I wanted to do and I stuck to it. I’m a shooter and I was able to pick the corner."
"I’m not a superstitious guy," piped in Jets coach Claude Noel. "Certainly he wasn’t rattled with it. He almost ignored it."
Kane’s focus, and a strong night from backup goalie Chris Mason — especially late in the game and in the shootout — helped the Jets stop a slide of two losses and lifted them up to 60 points, now just four points off the Eastern Conference playoff line heading home for tonight’s date with the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. CT, TSN, TSN 1290).
The game kicks off an eight-game stay at the MTS Centre.
"That extra point was huge, I think," Kane said. "If we win this game, we go back home and it gives us a lot of energy going forward."
Mason, in his first shootout of the season, stopped three of four including the fourth try from sniper Dany Heatley that set the stage for Kane.
"I’ve been meaning to practise breakaways in practice," Kane said. "They’re big because you can gain a lot fo points and lose a lot of points in the shootout. I was glad the guys put the puck in the net tonight."
Kane and Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg in the shotoout.
"This is really big," Mason said. "We’re all aware we haven’t been as good as we wanted to be on the road so any time we can pick one up and start building confidence is huge. It’s good heading home for a tough one tomorrow night."
The Jets, now 27-26-6, played before thousands of Jets fans who made the trip here.
"Not only were they there, they were noisy and you knew they were there," Wheeler said. "It’s always fun to go on the road and know your team travels well and see them make the game not so fun for the home crowd, maybe stir things up a little bit."
Minnesota, sliding with four straight losses in this home stand, is 25-23-9, 12th in the Western Conference standings
The game went back and forth several times Thursday and the home team got the jump just 1:03 into the third.
This time it was Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu swatting his own rebound back into the cage after Mason had made a sparkling save on Koivu.
But instead of wilting like they did on Tuesday at home, the Jets pushed back and needed only two minutes to square the game again.
Alex Burmistrov took Dustin Byfuglien’s shot off the backboard and roofed it behind Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom at 3:03.
Kane and Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi traded pairs of goals in the first two periods, one each in each.
Kane had scored just once previously in 2012 and now has 21 goals on the season.