Mike Halford

Evander Kane, Jared Cowen

Evander Kane says ‘I’ve done nothing wrong,’ will be in Buffalo lineup tonight

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Sabres forward Evander Kane addressed reports of sexual offense allegations on Monday, telling reporters that — while he wasn’t able to say much regarding the situation — he did nothing wrong.

“Obviously you guys are all aware of the situation that occurred and is going on right now,” Kane said, per the Buffalo News. “There’s not a whole lot I can say. I just want to say I’ve done nothing wrong and I look forward to clearing my name.

“I respect the legal process, and unfortunately at this time there is not much more I can talk about.”

After Kane spoke with the media, Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that Kane addressed the team, adding he’d be in the lineup tonight when Buffalo hosts Washington.

“He was happy to be on the ice with his team this morning,” Bylsma said.

On Sunday, the News and other area outlets reported that Kane was being investigated in relation to an alleged incident at a Buffalo hotel on Sunday morning.

WGR 550 cited sources “both inside and outside the Buffalo Police rank” that a 20-year-old woman was making the claim.

Kane, 24, has yet to be charged with a crime, and reports suggest the investigation is still in its early stages. The News reports that Kane is currently represented by attorney Paul J. Cambria, who also represented Chicago forward Patrick Kane during his sexual assault case.

“We take the allegation made today against Evander Kane very seriously. We are gathering facts (and have) been in touch with the NHL and Evander’s representatives,” the Sabres said in a statement released yesterday.

“Until we have more information we will not have any additional comment.”

Stars goalie prospect Campbell ‘needs to get his game together,’ sent to ECHL

OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 04:  Jack Campbell, goalkeeper of USA, in action during the IIHF World Championship group B match between Russia and USA at CEZ Arena on May 4, 2015 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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Another bump in the road for Dallas netminder Jack Campbell.

Campbell, the club’s first-round pick (11th overall) in 2010, has been sent to ECHL Idaho after a rough stint with Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas, GM Jim Nill told the Morning-News.

When asked about the demotion, Nill said “[Campbell] needs to get his game together.”

It’s a tough development for both the organization and Campbell, who looked to have put past struggles behind him.

In the spring, he was part of the U.S. team that captured bronze at the World Championships and, in early December, was recalled to Dallas to serve as Antti Niemi‘s backup while Kari Lehtonen was out injured.

But following his stint with the parent club, Campbell struggled. He went 0-3-2 with an .865 save percentage and 4.52 GAA in his last five games with Texas, paving the way for his demotion to the Steelheads.

Torts calls Jackets ’embarrassing’ and ‘weak mentally,’ blasts veteran leaders

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 17, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
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Looks like John Tortorella’s found a new target in Columbus.

After the club’s third straight loss on Sunday — a 3-2 defeat in Florida — Tortorella called the team “embarrassing” before laying into his veterans for a perceived lack of leadership.

“I’m not getting squat from the top players as far as that stuff,” he said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “I see weakness. I think we’re weak mentally, and it’s not the kids.

“I worry about the kids getting into bad habits by watching other people.”

Presumably, Tortorella was referring to — at least in part — the penalties taken in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning, a game that Columbus actually led 2-1 before Tampa ripped off three unanswered goals, all on the power play, in just over eight minutes in the second period.

Things weren’t much better on Sunday, as the Jackets sent the Panthers to the power play six times (which included three minor penalties in the final eight minutes of the first period).

As it stands, Columbus now leads the NHL in minor penalties (157) and total penalty minutes (518).

Scott Hartnell, one of the oldest and most experienced guys on the team, is a prime culprit here. He’s of the NHL most frequent sin bin visitors (sitting seventh with 69 PIM), and was tossed from Saturday’s game for charging Bolts goalie Ben Bishop.

More: Torts explains why Hartnell was a healthy scratch

While these latest quotes might be harsh, they aren’t super surprising, as Tortorella hasn’t been shy in challenging veterans this season.

In addition to Hartnell, the likes of Fedor Tyutin, Cam Atkinson and Dalton Prout have all been healthy scratched this season. He’s also done the same with “young veterans” Ryan Murray and, most notably, Ryan Johansen.

These aren’t the only problems Columbus has had in terms of leadership, though. Team captain Nick Foligno has been out of the lineup since Dec. 19 with an injury.

That’s only further exacerbated CBJ’s lack of veteran authority, at least according to Tortorella, who finished his rant by saying Columbus is getting “nothing” in the leadership department right now.

Pittsburgh gets Crosby, Letang back tonight

Marc-Andre Fleury; Joffrey Lupul
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The Penguins are getting a pair of key reinforcements back for Saturday’s tilt in Minnesota.

Sidney Crosby, who missed the final game prior to the break, and Kris Letang — out since Dec. 9 with an upper-body ailment — will draw back in, per head coach Mike Sullivan.

Crosby took this morning’s skate centering David Perron and Chris Kunitz, while Letang was in a defensive pairing alongside Olli Maatta.

“I feel good,” Crosby said, per the Pens website. “To get basically a week (off) has been good. I’m happy with the way I felt this morning.

“It’s just a matter of trusting that you can go out there and take hits. It’s different from a morning skate, but you have to be confident about it. I felt good today. That’s a good thing.”

White, Werenski, Matthews push U.S. past Canada in World Juniors opener

during the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.

Prior to the start of the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championships, USA Hockey named Columbus prospect Zach Weresnki team captain, with Louie Belpedio (Minnesota), Colin White (Ottawa, pictured) and Auston Matthews (’16 Draft) as the alternates.

And on day one of the tournament, those all proved to be wise choices.

Belpedio scored the winner while White — named player of the game — Werenski and Matthews each finished with a goal and assist to give the U.S. a 4-2 win over Canada in Helsinki.

Things couldn’t have started much better for the U.S.

But, in saying that, they also couldn’t have started much worse.

In the opening period, forward Alex DeBrincat was ejected for spearing Team Canada forward Travis Konecny. A highly-talented offensive player — DeBrincat leads the OHL in scoring — it was unclear how the U.S. would react to losing him for the remainder of the contest.

Just fine, apparently.

After Matthew Barzal gave Canada a 1-0 lead, White responded on assists from Sonny Milano and Christian Dvorak, which set the stage for an eventful third period.

Werenski opened the scoring on the power play to make it 2-1 for the Americans, only for Dylan Strome — the third overall pick in 2015 (Arizona) — to reply for the Canadians midway through the frame.

Strome’s marker wouldn’t stand for long.

Belpedio scored roughly six minutes later, aided by a deflection from Canada’s Joe Hicketts. Matthews then scored the insurance marker with less than three minutes remaining, to put the game to bed.