OTTAWA - As much as Adam Lowry loves having Andrew Copp on his line, he knows that sometimes the situation calls for some line juggling.
One of those situations came on Tuesday night when Copp was moved up to the wing with Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers to help the Jets in their comeback win over the Ottawa Senators.
"You look at the role Copper plays on our team, I've had to come to terms that there are instances that I'll lose him in a game or I'll lose him for an extended period of time," said Lowry. "He's such versatile player and it seems whatever line he goes on, he makes a positive impact."
That positive impact is exactly why Jets head coach Paul Maurice made the switch.
"Last night he was going. He was the reason for the line shifting. I didn't want to break up Lowry's line," said Maurice. "If you think back to the very first shift of the game, we liked it an awful lot. The next shift came out and we gave up six shots.
"I was robbing Peter to pay Paul last night. It worked well. I thought we got to be a pretty tight team after the adjustment."
The duo factored into the game in a number of ways on Tuesday. It was Copp who won the face-off that led to Lowry tipping home his first of the season to get the Jets on the board in the first period.
In overtime, Copp sent a perfect saucer pass from the right-wing boards to Nikolaj Ehlers streaking down the middle of the ice. The pass had to be perfect. It had to clear the stick of Senators' defenceman Thomas Chabot and hit Ehlers on the tape, as Artem Anisimov was trying to track down the speedy Jets forward.
That's exactly what happened. And it's more proof that Copp's offensive game continues to grow.
"It was a good pass to Nik on the goal. I'm still finding that rhythm and groove, though," said Copp. "You get that first one out of the way and you can kind of have a snowball effect. Hopefully we can continue on and start finishing on chances and continue to create for whatever line mates I have."
Copp played 21:15 against the Senators, just four seconds off his career-high in a regular season game.
On Wednesday, Copp echoed the words that Jets captain Blake Wheeler said immediately after the win on Tuesday - the Jets were way more "connected" and that led to better play overall.
"Supporting the puck and being connected on the ice is probably the biggest thing. Having the right mindset of battling on pucks," Copp said. "There are things that when we do them in a game, we're successful. When we don't, we're not successful."
Neither Copp nor Lowry took part in Winnipeg's optional skate on Wednesday. Patrik Laine (day-to-day with an upper-body injury) took part for about 10 minutes but left the ice early for the fourth consecutive day.
"We just wanted to check his movement on the ice. I'm going to list him as doubtful," Maurice said, adding he's keeping the door open on the possibility of Laine playing if he wakes up feeling strong on game day.
That next game day is Thursday, when the Jets will take on the Senators in the second of three consecutive meetings between the two clubs.
Neal Pionk, like Copp and Lowry, was one of six Jets skaters to see time on both the power play and penalty kill in the overtime win. He expects the Senators to come out looking for a bit of revenge after Winnipeg's comeback heroics on Tuesday.
"We expect for them to come out even harder. It's any team's response after a game," said Pionk. "They have a good group of players over there. We have to be ready for their best."
Despite getting the two points, there are areas Copp would like to see the team continue improving. One of them is the penalty kill. The Jets have allowed at least one goal against on the PK in each game they've played this season. Overall, Winnipeg has killed five of the nine shorthanded situations they've faced.
"We have to find a way to keep the puck out of our net," said Copp, adding that the team has handled adversity pretty well so far this season. "That's going off last year. It's something we've handled throughout the year with the ups and downs. We're only three games in, but we've handled being down in games and clawing our way back. That's a positive."
Also a positive? Lowry thought last night's win over Ottawa was his line's best so far this season. Still, he isn't satisfied.
"We've been building consistently," he said. "That's something we're going to continue to improve on. Generate more zone time in the other team's end and less time in our end, and hopefully be able to contribute."