If Dustin Byfuglien's comments at the NHL All-Star Game about Winnipeg and re-signing with the Jets were seen as vague or lukewarm -- that was a common theme from some corners last weekend -- he has now left little doubt about his stance.
Asked after Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars if he'd like to re-sign with the Jets, the big defenceman was unequivocal in his answer.
"Yeah. I'd love to. I've met a lot of good people and now some really good friends," said Byfuglien, voted the game's third star. "I've been here for a long time. You never want to leave home. I've been here long enough; my family has been here and I've had two kids here.
"It's somewhere you don't want to leave."
The Jets have stepped up negotiations with the Byfuglien camp in recent weeks, meeting with his agent Ben Hankinson in St. Paul, Minn., last month. Meanwhile, contract talks with captain Andrew Ladd -- also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer -- have cooled. Ladd's agent J.P. Barry said Tuesday he and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said hello at the Prospects Game in Vancouver last weekend, but nothing has changed in terms of hammering out a new deal.
SEGUIN AGAIN: Tyler Seguin torched the Jets for two more goals in Tuesday's win and now has 12 goals and 23 points in 21 games against the Jets/Thrashers franchise.
"The first game out of the (all-star) break, there were a few plays out there that you wouldn't usually see from both sides," said Seguin. "The biggest thing for us is our special teams. Getting a couple power-play goals (one as time expired) makes a huge difference for us."
WELCOME BACK: The Jets got some forward depth back from the injured list as Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry returned to the lineup. Perreault worked the left side on a line with Bryan Little and Drew Stafford, and while that unit did not score an even-strength goal, it wasn't without its chances. Little had two glorious chances in tight, but couldn't finish. He now has just one goal (and eight assists) in his last 15 games.
Lowry, meanwhile, centred the third line with Andrew Ladd and Alex Burmistrov and slammed home his fourth of the season in tight on Antti Niemi. Interestingly, four of Lowry's 15 career goals have come in seven games against Dallas.
NUMBERS GAME: Nikolaj Ehlers picked up an assist on Byfuglien's goal, extending his point streak to five games (four goals, three assists)... Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made his 20th start in the past 22 games and stopped 22 of 26 shots... John Klingberg of the Stars had two assists and now has eight points in seven career games vs. the Jets. He is third among NHL defencemen this season with 42 points... Byfuglien's goal ties him with Little for the team lead with 15. He has now scored in each of the last three games.
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