After sitting out six games with an injury, Evander Kane wanted to make up for lost time.
Kane returned to score a goal and added an assist, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
"I put on my skates and I tried to help this team win — that's just how I am," said Kane, who had been out since Nov. 29 with a lower-body injury.
Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little also had goals for the Jets, with Al Montoya making 22 saves.
"I felt confident and the team did a good job tonight. I can't say that enough," said Montoya, who got the start because Ondrej Pavelec had given up five goals in a 6-4 home loss on Saturday. "[The Blue Jackets] didn't have too many chances."
'When you've got a 3-1 lead you've got to put them away. We played a solid game. But it's nothing to jump up and down about, though.' - Jets forward Evander Kane
A slow, checking game with few good scoring opportunities for most of the first two periods turned into a sprint in the third period, with the teams scoring three times inside 3 minutes.
Kane's goal proved to be the winner.
"I thought [Kane] looked good for a guy who's been out for a little while," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "His shot on the 3-on-1 was great. And his pass to Scheifele was also good."
R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin had the goals for the Blue Jackets, who had a first-period goal disallowed. They had picked up points in five of their past six games (4-1-1).
The Jets, coming off an 0-2-1 homestand, opened the scoring when Scheifele notched his fourth at the 13:59 mark of the second.
Finding his teammate on a nifty 2-on-1 pass below the hash, Kane sent a pass to Scheifele that he lifted high into the top of the net.
Thanks to a double-minor for high sticking against Cam Atkinson, the Jets made it 2-0 at 2:28 of the third. A seemingly innocent one-timer from the blue line by Dustin Byfuglien was redirected by Little, who merely stuck out his stick. The puck ricocheted off it and also off the skate of Columbus defenceman David Savard's skate.
'We played solid with the puck'
Umberger collected a pass from Matt Calvert behind the net and scored on the wraparound to cut the lead to 2-1 at 8:48.
Moments later, however, David Savard got caught pinching in and it resulted in a 3-on-1 rush with Kane blistering a high shot to push the lead back to two goals at the 10:35 mark.
"We played solid with the puck," Kane said. "When you've got a 3-1 lead you've got to put them away. We played a solid game. But it's nothing to jump up and down about, though."
Once again the Blue Jackets countered, this time when Nick Foligno stole the puck in his offensive zone. Montoya stopped his shot, but Mark Letestu then fed Tyutin, who was crashing the net from the wing to make it 3-2 at the 11:39 mark.
Mike McKenna, who had 29 saves, was starting his fourth consecutive game since backup Curtis McElhinney (lower body) was injured — in relief of last year's Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (groin strain).
In the final minute of the scoreless first period, there was a wild scramble in the crease led to Calvert being checked into the cage just as the puck went past Montoya into the net, possibly off the stick of Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba. But referee Tim Peel immediately waved off the goal while the crowd booed loudly.
Peel said Montoya did not have room to make a play.
"I didn't see a goaltender interference on that play," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "You're disappointed in the call, but that was one play of many, many in the game."
The crowd booed louder each time the replay was shown on the centre ice monitors. The officials deliberated for 45 seconds, but Peel then announced that the call was non-reviewable.
"I felt I was pushed in and I tried to dodge [Montoya]," Calvert said. "I thought the puck was in the net before I was but it was a situation where the official had to make a quick call."