WINNIPEG — Dustin Byfuglien's 800th NHL game was as memorable as it was productive, as the Jets defenceman scored and added an assist in Winnipeg's 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
"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 honour, 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," added Byfuglien on his club's success at Bell MTS Place. "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."
Winnipeg (32-13-9) has now secured points in 10-straight games at home, going 9-0-1 over that span and improving to 20-3-2 overall on home ice.
"We've got a good balance here of guys that can grind and certainly enough offence," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "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."
Dmitry Kulikov scored the eventual game-winner in the second period, while Jack Roslovic and Nic Petan also scored for Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck made 18 saves to capture his 28th win of the season (28-6-8), moving him into a tie with Washington's Braden Holtby for the second-most in the NHL this season.
Kevin Connauton, Christian Dvorak and Derek Stepan replied for the Coyotes, who have now lost four straight, falling to a league-worst 12-32-9. Antti Raanta stopped 19 shots for Arizona.
"I liked our battle last half of the game," said Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet. "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, while Connauton scored hid third for Arizona tie the game 1-1 just 4:25 into the first.
Byfuglien's goal put Winnipeg ahead 2-1 midway through the opening frame, batting a rebound out of mid-air and past Raanta.
"I swing at a lot of pucks and miss most of them but that one I got," said Byfuglien.
Petan's first goal of the season gave the Jets a 3-1 lead late in the first, re-directing a Ben Chiarot point shot along the ice. Petan and linemate Brendan Lemieux were called up from the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose on Monday as the Jets placed centre Adam Lowry on injured reserve.
The Coyotes got back to 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 period, his third of the season, capping a three-on-two rush with a one-timer from the right face-off dot.
Stepan's 10th of the season came less than a minute into the third to make it a 4-3 game, deflecting an Alex Goligoski point shot.
The Jets are four games into their season-long 10-game home stand, with the St. Louis Blues in town on Friday for a critical Central Division matchup. The Coyotes wrap their three-game road trip in Minnesota against the Wild on Saturday.
Darrin Bauming, The Canadian Press