December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
HIS NUMBERS: Goals: 1 Assists: 0 Pts: 1
HIS ICETIME: 26 shifts totalling 25 minutes and 51 seconds
An awful giveaway by Toby Enstrom, Byfuglien's defensive partner, led to the Islanders goal -- a two-on-one in which David Ullstrom's shot beat Al Montoya. But they made up for it later as they were on the ice, with Enstrom drawing an assist, on Kyle Wellwood's picturesque feed to Alex Ponikarovsky for his first as a Jet.
A little bit of everything in the second period -- picked his spots well, including crashing the net for a good chance with the Jets ahead 2-1, a slashing penalty just second later. His biggest impact in the middle frame might have been his collision with Colin McDonald, who had Byfuglien lined up but bounced off him as if he had skated into a retaining wall.
A critical moment in the comeback was Byfuglien's power-play howitzer with 7:01 left and cut the Islander lead to 4-3. He also played huge minutes in the third and OT, logging over 10 minutes in the final 22 of the game.
What we liked: As has been the case through the early part of the season, Byfuglien's decision making is critical to his improved play. He seems to be taking less chances -- and making fewer mistakes -- with and without the puck. He was a difference maker again Sunday and that's what this team needs from arguably its best player.
What we didn't like: Not a whole lot not to like. While Enstrom struggled, Byfuglien's mistakes were few.
SYNOPSIS: It's not too early to spit this out, but maybe we should be the first: Byfuglien now has three goals and six points in five games for the Jets and, if there are more efforts like the first week or so the rest of this season, he has to be in the Norris Trophy discussion.
-- Ed Tait
Islanders assistant coach Brent Thompson, who played 39 games for the first-version Jets, was promoted after one season as coach of the Isles' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Jets forward Alexei Ponikarovsky's first-period goal Sunday was his first NHL marker since he fired the OT winner for New Jersey over the Flyers in Game 3 of their playoff series last May 3.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2013 $sourceSection0