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Evander Kane is sorta on fire right now

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With a 4-2 win over the Devils last night, the Winnipeg Jets improved to 11-11-4 and reached the .500 mark for just the second time this season. Leading the charge was 20-year-old Evander Kane, who scored two goals and was named the game’s first star.

The goals were Kane’s 13th and 14th of the season, moving him into a tie for sixth-most in the NHL (he’s on pace for 46) — needless to say, he appears to be in the midst of a breakout campaign.

Not that he’s resting on his laurels or anything.

“I still feel I can be a lot better,” Kane said following the game.“I want to be one of the best players in the league, a dominant player in this league, and this is just the start of that.”

Kane’s ascendancy is great for two reasons. One, he’s one of the league’s most uniquely talented players. He looks slender — boasting a sleek 6-foot-2, 195 pound frame — but plays a power game, highlighted with a fighting ability honed by his father, Perry, a former amateur boxer (hence the name “Evander” — Kane’s named after Real Deal Holyfield.) He doesn’t fight often, but when he does…well, just ask Matt Cooke. Its part of the physical approach that makes Kane so versatile. He can play up and down the lineup, something he first showcased at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships.

Two, he’s exactly what the organization needs. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became Jets, those unfamiliar with the roster took one look and said “this team has no star power.” Which was harsh, but accurate. The two potential stars were captain Andrew Ladd and All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, but Ladd is more of a heart-and-soul guy and the jury was still out on Byfuglien (and still is, to be honest.) In just his third NHL season, Kane looks like he could be a 35-40 goal scorer, something the franchise hasn’t had since the days of Ilya Kovalchuk.

“Wanting the pressure and always being counted on to score… I’ve always wanted that since I was a pee wee hockey player,” he said. “I like having the puck on my stick. I always feel comfortable when the puck is on my stick because I’m confident in myself.

“This being my third year, it’s a big year for me. I wanted to come in here and make a statement… and continue to make a statement.”

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.