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Happy returns boost offence

Kane and Slater make impact with high energy

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Neither contributed to the offence, but the Winnipeg Jets got a pretty healthy injection of experience and ability into their lineup Thursday night.

Both left-winger Evander Kane and centre Jim Slater did their part in a 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes at the MTS Centre.

It included Kane's return to the top two lines, skating with centre Mark Scheifele and right-winger Blake Wheeler.

Intensity

"He just creates so much with his speed and his intensity," Wheeler said, asked about having Kane back on the line first the first time since Jan. 26. "He plays every shift hard. He's been out quite a bit but he wanted to shake off the rust tonight and I think he played really well.

"I think it's exciting going forward to have that kind of guy on a line. He's going to create a lot of chances for us and he's going to score some big goals for us."

Kane, who's been out a month because of an infection in his hand, originally caused by a fight, dropped his gloves midway through the game after exchanging slashes with Phoenix's Keith Yandle.

"I did (think about fighting)," Kane said, smiling. "That's why I dropped my gloves. More so instinct. It's not going to stop me from fighting or defending myself. I definitely had a Frank Ricard moment there from Old School, blacked out there for a second.

"Then came back to life and realized I had a bad hand. I don't think he wanted to fight me either so I probably got the right guy."

Jets coach Paul Maurice said he wasn't too nervous about Kane's reaction in the game.

"I don't really like to take that away from anybody," Maurice said. "Remember the Jarome Iginla fight years ago against Nashville? It turned into a three-week dialogue on whether a guy like that should fight. It was great in that game. That was a while ago. You don't want to take that energy away from anybody but you always want to make sure guys are fighting in their pay grade."

All that said, Kane said he felt pretty good in the 20 minutes 30 seconds he played.

"I was definitely a little tired out there, first game in little over a month," he said. "But I felt good, had some scoring chances.

"We were able to win the game, I think that's the most important part."

He had the game on his stick with six seconds left in regulation time, with a pass from Scheifele right in front of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.

He redirected it just wide.

"Those kind of things, you want to put those away but sometimes you don't get that bounce," he said. "I'm happy that Seto (Devin Setoguichi) and Olli (Jokinen) came to life in the shootout there."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Olympian and gold-medal hockey player Jocelyne Larocque drops the puck for Winnipeg Jets' Olli Jokinen (12) and Phoenix Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) before the Winnipeg Jets game against the Phoenix Coyotes at MTS Centre Thursday night.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2014 C3

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