Dustin Byfuglien with 3 points in return to lineup as Winnipeg Jets bounce back against Canucks
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien made his presence felt in his first game back from injury.
After missing the past two games with an upper-body injury, Byfuglien had a three point night as the Jets returned to the win column with a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at Bell MTS Place.
Byfuglien scored his first goal of the season and added two assists in the win as the Jets continued their season high six-game homestand.
“It felt good to be back in the locker room with the guys,” Byfuglien said.
“I thought we put together a decent game, so it’s nice to be back and we got our two points.”
Bryan Little netted the game winning goal for the second time in the last three games. He also recorded an assist as his line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine has finally started to click. And the entire team only got better as the game wore on.
“I think we realized we kinda had a slow start. It was kinda the opposite of last game,” Little said. “I thought we did a good job of getting better throughout the game, and obviously the third period was our best. It was a good response by us.”
The Jets got out to an early lead but the Canucks stole the momentum in the middle stanza. The Jets came out hard in the third period and scored three times in the final frame to get the victory.
“I liked our third an awful lot,” head coach Paul Maurice said.
“Probably from the 10 minute mark of the first to about the 10 minute mark of the second as well. But our third, the right amount of urgency and desperation in your game, enthusiasm, we were churning right, and good decisions. For the most part really good decisions when we tried to make something happen because we want to continue to do that. You got to make plays in the third period to make things happen.”
Laine and Andrew Copp had the other goals for Winnipeg as they outshot Vancouver 32-27. The Jets converted on both their powerplay opportunities.
Bo Horvat had the lone goal for the Canucks and goalie Anders Nilsson made 28 stops.
Blake Wheeler recorded a first period assist to give him 500 career points as a member of the Jets/Thrashers organization.
WATCH: Winnipeg Jets Post Game Reaction
The Jets struck for the game’s first goal with just 64 seconds left in the opening frame. Wheeler threaded a cross-ice pass to Laine who fired in the one-timer for the powerplay goal. Byfuglien had the other assist on Laine’s third goal of the season. It was the only goal of the period in which the Jets outshot Vancouver 11-8.
The Jets clung to the one-goal lead til just past the midway point of the second period. Horvat blew past Jacob Trouba and beat Connor Hellebuyck short side for his fourth of the campaign. Derrick Pouliot had the only assist and the game was tied.
WATCH: Horvat scores on Connor Hellebuyck
The Canucks had the better scoring chances in the period and led in shots 12-9.
The Jets retook the lead on the powerplay five minutes into the final frame. Little came busting into the Canucks’ zone and sent a backhand past Nilsson for the go ahead goal. His second of the season was assisted by Byfuglien and Ehlers.
The Jets added an insurance marker with 7:14 remaining. Adam Lowry skated out from the behind the net and put the puck out front where Copp just barely knocked it across the goal line. Lowry had the only assist on Copp’s first of the campaign.
Byfuglien scored the Jets fourth goal, converting a nice feed from Little for his first goal of the season. Ehlers also had an assist and the Jets won for the second time in their last three games.
Dmitry Kulikov, Kristian Vesalainen and Nic Petan all sat out for the Jets.
The Jets next see action on Saturday as they host the Arizona Coyotes starting at 3:00 pm CT at Bell MTS Place.
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