SAN JOSE — There was high energy inside SAP Center on Saturday night when the Sharks took on the Predators in a hard-fought, playoff-like game.
But the crowd was at its loudest and most engaged when Evander Kane was the first skater mentioned during starting lineup introductions.
“It was a nice gesture from them,” the Sharks winger said after the game. “Definitely really appreciate it. Got me going for that first shift there. It was a nice gesture, and I appreciate it. We have a great group of fans here.”
Saturday marked Kane’s first game since Feb. 26, as he missed time because of injury and a family tragedy. But there was no denying that, despite San Jose falling to Nashville 4-2 in its regular-season series finale, having Kane back on the ice was a bright spot.
“He did a good job, considering what he’s been through,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “The fact he even got out here today I think was very impressive.”
Kane admitted he felt a bit rusty when he took the ice to start the game, but he was able to pick it up as the contest went on.
“First 10 minutes were – just getting my legs back, getting my wind back,” Kane said. “Then I felt fine, took a regular shift. Felt good in that regard.”
“The fact that he played 20 minutes and played hard and did what he did," DeBoer said. "He gave us everything he had.”
Kane was reunited on a line with Tomas Hertl, and after getting back into a groove, the duo returned to being one of the most dominant lines on the ice – even though they didn’t get on the scoresheet.
“I thought we created some opportunities but weren’t able to find the back of the net,” Kane said.
That line will have plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net in the near future, though. San Jose concludes its current three-game homestand with a showdown against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night. That game is sure to be hard-hitting, and the Sharks have a better chance of winning now that they have Kane back in the lineup.