On a night when there was a lot to like about the Edmonton Oilers in the course of their 5-2 romp over the Seattle Kraken my eyes were on Evander Kane, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after 31 games and 70 days out of action with that wicked wrist injury.
With goals from five different players – Connor McDavid, Derek Ryan, Warren Foegele, Zach Hyman, and Ryan MacLeod – and yet another solid, if not spectacular, performance from Jack Campbell in the goal crease, it was Kane and the distinctive dimensions that he brings who stood out for me.
Kane, out since Nov. 8, isn’t completely up to speed yet and that’s no surprise, but in 17:09 playing time, he had seven shots on goal and five hits, tops on the team in both categories. There was some rust in terms of timing — Kane couldn’t reel in a goalmouth feed from McDavid – but based on what we saw against the Kraken, it doesn’t look like it’ll take him long to regain his form.
The return of Kane with the Oilers on a four-game win streak and looking capable of making a playoff push in Western Conference standings, couldn’t come at a better time. He’s a game-breaker and a difference-maker and there’s absolutely no doubt the Oilers have missed him. Add bumps provided by additions Klim Kostin and Vincent Desharnais and maybe there’s a chance to get on a meaningful roll.
WHAT THEY SAID
Nov 1, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane (91) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“It felt fine,” Kane said of his first game back. “No issues tonight other than my finish. I guess I can’t expect too much, but yeah, we had some looks. The team played well. We got two points against a really good team. I had my looks tonight, which was a positive and I’ll just try to build off that.
“I think it was positive when you’re out there in around the net getting some looks and getting some chances. We put up five goals, I think all five-on-five tonight, so that was a really good plus for our team.”
Hyman, who scored the 4-2 goal and added two assists, liked what he saw from Kane. “It’s not easy. He missed 30 something games, two-and-a-half months,” Hyman said. “He came back earlier than I think everybody expected. Credit to him for putting in all that work and he didn’t look at a place at all, didn’t look any different. He just looked like himself.”
Asked about getting up to speed, Kane referenced last season, when he joined the Oilers on a one-year contract in January after several months of sitting out. Kane went on to score 22 goals in the 43 regular season games he played before adding 13 more in 15 post-season games on the way to the conference final.
“Let’s put it this way,” Kane said. “I felt a lot better tonight than I did when I came in here last year for my first game.”
Better than last year? Sure.