WINNIPEG – Evander Kane’s energetic play seems to be inspiring his teammates.
Kane made his presence felt everywhere on the ice Saturday, scoring the game’s first goal and adding an empty-netter in the Winnipeg Jets’ 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils
Kane now has a team-best 14 goals.
“You can see that (Kane is) playing with confidence,” Jets coach Claude Noel said. “His speed seems to be wearing off on his linemates, as well, because it looks like (Bryan) Little’s got a little bit more of a step, it looks like (Blake) Wheeler’s got a step, as well.
“So it looks like it’s a good thing that’s happening with our group.”
Little picked up a pair assists, forward Alexander Burmistrov hada short-handed goal and defenceman Mark Stuart scored the game-winner with less that seven minutes left to lift Winnipeg’s record to 11-11-4.
“I’m executing better and playing smarter and burying my chances,” Kane said. “When I do that things happen for me.”
The loss was the Devils’ fourth straight, their longest losing streak of the season, as they fell to 12-12-1.
Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias scored for New Jersey, which outshot the Jets 25-20.
Ondrej Pavelec, making his 23rd start of the season, was in net for Winnipeg. He was coming off a 1-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
Johan Hedberg took the loss for New Jersey.
“Right now when we give up opportunities, we’re giving up real, real quality opportunities,” said Devils forward Zach Parise, who assisted on Elias’ goal.
“Throughout the course of the game we’re not giving them much, but when we are it’s breakaways or real Grade A chances so that’s hurting us.”
Kane scored his first goal when a shot from defenceman Dustin Byfuglien deflected off his stick past Hedberg at 1:42 of the first period.
New Jersey replied four minutes later with a low shot from Henrique that beat Pavelec on the glove side.
The teams were 6-6 on shots on goal in the tight-checking first period.
The Devils went ahead 2-1 at 17:17 of the second when Elias scored his ninth of the season on a two-man advantage.
The Jets responded with Burmistrov’s goal just over a minute later.
Winnipeg got a bit of a scare early in the third period when Kane fell while barrelling to the net with the puck and banged his leg against the post.
He laid on the ice for a bit, but skated to the bench on his own. He said after the game he was fine.
While it looked like Kane was in on Winnipeg’s game-winning goal at 13:13, Stuart was credited with his third of the season and assists went to Wheeler and Zach Bogosian.
“It feels good to chip in offensively every once in a while,” Stuart said. “It was a good game by us all around.”
Kane put in his empty-netter at 19:28 unassisted.
Winnipeg has won two straight and hosts Boston on Tuesday. The Devils travel to Toronto for a game against the Leafs the same night.