October 13, 2015


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Winnipeg Jets

Sweet pass from Buff helps Gagnon notch his first NHL goal

He's had 31 games in four different NHL seasons now and finally, Winnipeg Jets' centre Aaron Gagnon can cross an important item off his list: first NHL goal.

The long-awaited -- for him -- moment came at 10:04 of Tuesday's second period when the 26-year-old from B.C. delivered a one-time blast from the slot to put his team ahead 2-0 on its way to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The setup came via a good forecheck and an accurately placed pass from teammate Dustin Byfuglien.

"It's always the one you remember the rest of your life," Gagnon said after his third game since being recalled last week by the Jets from St. John's. "I've had a lot of chances over the last few years.

"It's nice to get that first one."

Byfuglien delivered the pass and delivered the first-goal puck.

"I was hoping he'd look for me there," Gagnon said. "I was just trying to find a soft spot and he fed a nice one in there for me.

"You figure out how many chances you're going to get. I was up and down for a few years now and it's in the back of your mind that maybe I'd never get it but it feels good to get that one and hopefully a few more to come now."

Even better, it's a major contribution for a team trying to scrape its way to a playoff spot.

"I guess you couldn't get them at a better time, especially right now when we're trying to claw our way back into the playoff race here," Gagnon said. "You'll take goals anytime but at this big of a moment, it goes for everyone right now."

Playing much of his time with James Wright and Chris Thorburn on Tuesday, reliability might be even more important than a goal or goals.

"You've got to be reliable, do your job out there," Gagnon said. "But when you get a chance, you've got to take your shots."

-- -- --

Jets right-winger Anthony Peluso, who's been out since breaking a bone in his hand on March 2, returned to active practice duty on Tuesday.

"I guess right now it'll be day to day, (that's how) we'll take it," Peluso said after the skate. "I haven't really talked to the trainers about it. That's coming from me. I mean, if it was up to me, I'd be in the lineup tonight.

"There's protocols to follow."

Jets coach Claude Noel said Peluso will require some time to get back near game shape.

The rugged winger, though, said he's made big progress.

"It feels great," he said. "I've been doing a lot of rehab and skating already. It's healed now. A couple of weeks ago (it hurt) but through my rehab it feels fine."

So good he'd be able to drop the gloves if required?

"I'm sure I would if I had to," he said. "It's not advised by the doctors. At this point, I've just got to be careful with it."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 C2

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