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NHL pitches a no-hitter

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COLUMBUS -- Dustin Byfuglien slapped on a Winnipeg Jets baseball hat and stuffed his spiffy new black, white and neon-green NHL All-Star skates into his equipment bag.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/01/2015 (2929 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

COLUMBUS — Dustin Byfuglien slapped on a Winnipeg Jets baseball hat and stuffed his spiffy new black, white and neon-green NHL All-Star skates into his equipment bag.

Yes, now it’s time to get back to real work.

Byfuglien will make the three-hour drive from Columbus to Pittsburgh this morning to hook up with his teammates prior to the resumption of the Jets’ NHL schedule Tuesday against the Penguins.

Gene Puskar / The Associated Press The Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (left) does what defencemen did best Sunday, watch -- in this case as Team Toews' Johnny Gaudreau sends a pass in front of the Team Foligno goal.

And as much fun as the all-star festivities were, there’s nothing like the sprint to a possible playoff spot to get a guy’s competitive juices flowing again. The Jets, at 26-14-8, hold down the first wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference, but also trail St. Louis and Chicago by just two points — and first-place Nashville by five — in the ultra-competitive Central Division.

“It’s definitely going to be nice to get back in the swing of things,” said Byfuglien. “Hopefully we’re ready to go and start the second half good.

“We’ve got to stay consistent and do what we’ve been doing. Keeping it simple. It’s not going to be an easy task but we’ve been doing it well all year.”

Byfuglien picked up an assist in Sunday’s game, a 17-12 win by Team Toews, and finished minus-5. But it was hardly the kind of affair that would allow Byfuglien to showcase the game that brought him here, namely being a dynamic physical force with some offensive touch.

This was a no-hitter — literally — that was all about the forwards having the green light to dangle, knowing a behemoth like Byfuglien wasn’t going to wallpaper them into the boards or step up to intercept a pass after a cute toe-drag.

“It’s tough to be a D-man,” said Byfuglien. “But goalie would actually be the worst. There’s not too much defence in this. You just kind of more or less watch these forwards show what they can do. Some of those goals out there… wow.

It’s tough to be a D-man… There’s not too much defence in this. You just kind of more or less watch these forwards show what they can do. Some of those goals out there… wow’

— Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien on the all-star experience

“I didn’t even realize (the score) was that bad until I looked up at the end. I was like ‘wow, they have 17.’ I didn’t hear the cannon go off that many times, I didn’t think.”

Of course, the score and his personal stat line were meaningless in the big picture. This was about sharing a dressing room with former Blackhawk teammates Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith and with other NHL stars such Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.

Byfuglien, FYI, spent the game paired with young Arizona Coyotes D-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

“It’s just the guys that got to put the jerseys on,” said Byfuglien when asked what will stand out the most from the weekend. “There’s a lot of great players in here. You never know what’s going to happen later on (in your career).

“They put on a great weekend here in Columbus. I enjoyed myself, my family enjoyed it. Everyone seemed to be getting along and having a good time.

Bruce Bennett / The Associated Press Team Foligno goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins can't stop a shot by Team Toews' Rick Nash as Dustin Byfuglien (33) defends, sort of.

“It’s something that you dream about. You just enjoy the moment and have fun.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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