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Perreault, Lowry return to practice

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG – Following a six-day break for the NHL All-Star Game, the Winnipeg Jets reconvened today at MTS Iceplex, practicing for tomorrow’s game against the division rival Dallas Stars.

Injured forwards Adam Lowry (upper body) and Mathieu Perreault (lower body) both skated today after missing time prior to the break, and Head Coach Paul Maurice is “hopeful” they’ll both be in
the lineup tomorrow night.

“It’s frustrating,” Lowry said of his upper body injury, which has kept him out for the past two weeks. “Any time you have to sit out and can’t help your team, it’s tough, but it was important to make sure I was feeling good before I came back.

“It’s good – I definitely feel comfortable now.”

Perreault, meanwhile, was injured Jan. 23 after colliding awkwardly with New Jersey Devils forward Tuomo Ruutu.

“That five days of resting your body definitely helps. It feels good to be back,” he said. “Everybody’s back from injury, so this is pretty much our full lineup. We’re confident in that lineup. We had a
good practice today, now we have to get ready for that push.”

The Jets will begin the unofficial second half of the season nine points out of a playoff spot. Perreault is aware of what needs to be done, but he won’t, for one second, count this team out.

With just four of their 12 games this month on home ice (two of which will be played this week), he knows it’s make or break time.

“Home or road it doesn’t really matter. We’ve got to get wins,” Perreault said. “We can’t have the mentality that [just because] we’re at home it’s going to be easier. Every game is so important now. We’ve got 33 games left and we pretty much have to go 26-7 or 25-8. We’ll take it one by one,
start tomorrow and hopefully get a win.”

Perreault was on the second line alongside Bryan Little and Drew Stafford, while Lowry centered the third line with Andrew Ladd and Alexander Burmistrov.

Dustin Byfuglien was the only player that did not participate in today’s practice, as he was still in transit from Nashville following the highly successful 2016 All-Star Weekend.

Byfuglien participated in three events in the Skills Competition, recording a time of 14.2 seconds in the Fastest Skater, firing a 99.6.mph bullet in the Hardest Shot, and failing to score on one
attempt in the shootout contest.

Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin set a new NHL record for the fastest lap around the rink, beating Mike Gartner’s 20-year-old record time of 13.386 with a split more than two-tenths quicker (13.172). Predators defenceman Shea Weber, meanwhile, had the hardest shot for the second straight
year with a blast of 108.1mph, just 0.7 off Zdeno Chara’s record, set in 2012.

Best of all, the players embraced the fun part of it. Just ask Brent Burns, who suited up in a Chewbacca costume for his turn in the breakaway contest.

“That’s the best part of coming to the rink, the different personalities,” Maurice said. “The culture of our sport is humble; it’s a more reserved sport in terms of how you present yourself as an individual. It’s always team-first. (But) that’s what makes hockey so great. There were some great stories and some really funny guys. You get to see the players relaxed and joking. It’s great for the game. …
It was the first All-Star Game I’ve watched in many years.”

Byfuglien tallied a goal and an assist for the Central Division in Sunday’s 3-on-3 extravaganza, but eventual MVP John Scott scored twice, leading the Pacific to a 9-6 victory after the two, 10-minute halves.

The Pacific went on to defeat the Atlantic 1-0 in the championship final, earning each participant a $90,909.09 cash prize.

Scott, crowned by the fans using the hashtag #NHLMVPScott, took home a 2016 Honda minivan for his efforts – a fitting reward for the father of two (and soon to be four) on “the best weekend of
[his] life.”

“I loved it,” forward Chris Thorburn said of the All-Star festivities. “I don’t usually tune into them, but with the obvious reason – John Scott being there – I wanted to see how everything went down. I really enjoyed it.”

CONDITIONING STINT?

Ondrej Pavelec getting closer to being ready for game action.

But is he ready to jump right in at the NHL level after missing nearly three months with a sprained knee?

With the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, at home later this week, Pavelec could be assigned there for a conditioning stint.

“That’s a conversation that will happen with (General Manager) Kevin (Cheveldayoff) and it will happen soon,” Maurice said.

– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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