Byfuglien’s goal and assist lead Jets past Coyotes 4-3
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Dustin Byfuglien’s 800th NHL game was as memorable as it was productive, as the Jets defenseman scored and added an assist in Winnipeg’s 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
“It’s great. I’ve done some good things around here to stick around to play 800,” said Byfuglien, now in his 13th NHL season. “It’s an honor, it’s a pleasure, it’s fun.”
The Jets quickly became the second NHL team to reach 20 home wins this season, just hours after the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first.
“For the most part, we’ve come out ready to go,” Byfuglien explained. “Right off the hop. Just sticking to our game plan. We’ve been working on things, just to stay consistent and be ready for the long stretch down the road. We’ve been doing a good job at sticking to our program.”
Dmitry Kulikov scored the eventual winner in the second period for the Jets (32-13-9), who are 9-0-1 in their last 10 home games to improve to 20-3-2 there this season.
“We’ve got a good balance here of guys that can grind and certainly enough offense,” coach Paul Maurice said. “It should be an advantage to home hockey, but in order to do that you have to have a certain structure in your lineup. We’re closer to that, where we want to be with that structure, than any of my time here.”
Jack Roslovic and Nic Petan also scored for Winnipeg, and Connor Hellebuyck (28-6-8) made 18 saves to tie Washington goalie Braden Holtby for the second-most wins in the NHL this season.
Kevin Connauton, Christian Dvorak and Derek Stepan scored for the Coyotes, who have lost four straight in falling to a league-worst 12-32-9. Antti Raanta stopped 19 shots.
“I liked our battle last half of the game,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “I thought we played really well. We worked hard, had some chances to score, a couple guys had chances to score and missed the net. I think they had 23 shots and four goals and those were top-shelf goals. That was the difference.”
Both teams scored on their first shot of the game, with Roslovic scoring his third of the season for the Jets, and Connauton netting his third for Arizona to make it 1-all 4:25 into the game.
Byfuglien put Winnipeg ahead 2-1 midway through the first period, batting a rebound out of midair and past Raanta.
“I swing at a lot of pucks and miss most of them, but that one I got,” Byfuglien said.
Petan’s first goal of the season gave the Jets a 3-1 lead late in the first. Petan redirected Ben Chiarot’s point shot along the ice.
The Coyotes got back within a goal, taking advantage of a power play late in the first period. Dvorak grabbed the rebound off his own blocked shot and slid it under Hellebuyck just six seconds after Jets captain Blake Wheeler went off for holding.
Kulikov gave the Jets a 4-2 lead early in the second. His third of the season capped a 3-on-2 rush as he scored on a one-timer from the right faceoff dot.
Stepan’s 10th of the season brought Arizona back within a goal. Stepan deflected Alex Goligoski’s point shot less than a minute into the third to make it 4-3.
NOTES: The Jets are four games into their 10-game homestand, their longest of the season. ... Petan and linemate Brendan Lemieux were called up from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League on Monday as the Jets placed center Adam Lowry on injured reserve.
Coyotes: Wrap up their three-game road trip in Minnesota on Saturday.
Jets: Host the St. Louis Blues on Friday in a critical Central Division matchup.
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