WINNIPEG - Evander Kane better not be making any getaway plans for NHL All-star weekend ó itís looking more and more like he wonít be getting the time off for rest and relaxation.
Kane scored a pair of goals and was a crossbar away from his first NHL hat trick on Tuesday night as the Winnipeg Jets earned a 4-1 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche.
After going seven games without a goal, Kane broke out in a big way and now leads the Jets with 17 goals and 28 points in 35 games.
Kaneís first goal was a thing of beauty as he wired a wrister high to the glove side, electing to shoot when Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson took away the pass during a 2-on-1 rush with linemate Blake Wheeler.
On Kaneís second goal, he was stoned on a breakaway chance as he tried to slip a shot through the five-hole but instead of quitting on the play, he chased the puck into the corner, made a nice play to get the puck down low and then went back to the front of the net for an easy tap-in.
With 46 games left in the regular season, Kane has ample time to eclipse his career highs of 19 goals and 43 points, set last season with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Kane, just 20 years old and in his third NHL season, is an emerging power forward and thereís a good chance heís going to be recognized by the folks who select the all-stars.
Kane now has five two-goal games this season and nine during his budding NHL career.
Although you could easily make a case for goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who has been a workhorse this season, but his numbers donít jump off the page ó which makes Kane the clubhouse leader to be the Jets representative in Ottawa in late January.
ANOTHER STREAK SNAPPED
Speaking of streaks, centre Alex Burmistrov picked up the second assist on Kaneís first goal for what was his first helper since Nov. 17, a span of 14 games.
Burmistrov did have three goals during the span but his offensive product has cooled considerably since his hot start.
However, heís been filling in nicely since Bryan Little went to the sidelines with a foot injury four games ago.
WELCOME TO THE 500 CLUB
Kudos to Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey for playing his 500th career NHL game on Tuesday night.
Hainsey has endured an injury-plagued season so far and been limited to 12 games to date, but his experience and mobility has been apparent on what is a young defence corps.
Speaking of the Jets defence, they were without Dustin Byfuglien against the Avalanche as heís been dealing with a lower-body issue that leaves him day-to-day.
Byfuglienís absence allowed Mark Flood to draw back into the lineup for the first time since Dec. 15 against the Washington Capitals.
Flood was paired mostly with Mark Stuart and didnít miss a beat, playing more than 16 minutes and doing a nice job of keeping his game simple and making plenty of strong outlet passes.
Flood also had an old-time hockey moment, finishing up one shift without his bucket after a collision took him into the end boards.
ANOTHER CAREER HIGH
You can add centre Tim Stapleton to the list of Jets players who have already tied career highs for goals during the first half of the NHL season.
Stapleton, who appeared in his 83rd NHL game on Tuesday, potted his fifth of the season during a Jets power play to give him five goals and career-high 10 points in 28 games.
For a guy who basically started the season as the 13th forward, Stapleton has proven to be a useful player and pleasant surprise who has showcased a booming shot and done a nice job in limited minutes.
It wouldnít be a surprise at all to see him push for double digits in goals ó impressive numbers for a journeyman who had only eight goals and 10 points going into the campaign.
THORBURN STILL SEARCHING
The goal-less streak has reached 36 games for Jets winger Chris Thorburn, but it was oh so close to being snapped late in the second period when he skated in on a partial breakaway.
Thorburn showed some patience and soft hands making a move to the backhand and while he beat J-S Giguere, his shot couldnít beat the post.
Thorburn did pick up his third assist of the season on Kaneís second goal of the contest.
Apparently, Thorburn was also taking some grief in the dressing room after the morning skate since heís currently behind Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who was given credit for a goal after the New Jersey Devils shot the puck into their own vacated net on Boxing Day.
Oddly enough, the last NHL goalie to get credit for a goal was Jets backup Chris Mason, who was with the Nashville Predators at the time back in 2006.
Itís going to be interesting to see if Jets head coach Claude Noel gives Pavelec his fifth consecutive start on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings or if Mason is between the pipes.
Chances are that Noel wants to play Pavelec against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, so will he get Mason some action on Thursday or want to ride Pavelec after he made 32 saves against the Avalanche?
Feel free to discuss among yourselves.