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Lowry set to return as Jets host Pittsburgh

by Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG -- A familiar face returned to Winnipeg Jets (15-17-2) morning skate today, while another’s absence meant head coach Paul Maurice had to change his forward lines before tonight’s game against Pittsburgh (17-14-3).

Maurice announced following today’s skate that forward Mark Scheifele suffered a concussion after colliding with Andrew Ladd at practice yesterday. Scheifele was placed on injured reserve, and Adam Lowry was recalled from the Manitoba Moose.

“This is not one that he’s coming back unless he’s 100 percent. When he’s at 100 percent, and the doctor says he’s 100 percent cleared, then he’ll play,” said Maurice. “We won’t be pushing the envelope at all with this. When he steps back into uniform or full-contact practice, he’s going to be at 100 percent. It’s going to be at least seven days.”

Lowry returns to the Jets line-up after playing four games with the Moose in the American Hockey League. Lowry registered four assists in those games.

“It’s always good for the confidence contributing and getting points, but I think the biggest thing for me was getting my speed back, getting on the puck, hanging on to the puck. I started to make some plays down there,” said Lowry. “Off the rush I was able to stop some cycles that the other team had. I think that’s going to be a big part of my game.”

The 22-year-old Lowry centered a line with Ladd and Alexander Burmistrov during today’s pre-game skate. Ladd says he and Lowry play a similar style of game.

“We’re at our best when we’re on the puck and on the body. Burmi is a guy who is responsible at both ends of the ice and obviously has some high-end puck skills,” said Ladd. “It’s up to us to try and figure it out as quick as we can and get something going.”

With Ladd changing lines, Drew Stafford moved to the wing with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, while Mathieu Perreault slid back to centre between Nikolaj Ehlers and Chris Thorburn.

“It’s been a little while, but I know what to do. I know you’ve got to take face offs so I worked on it a little bit this morning. Have to play low in the d zone, so it’s definitely different, but I’ll be okay,” said Perreault. “We just have to be a line that works really hard and that’s tough to defend.”

“He’s played enough centre ice over his career I’m not particularly worried about him. He’s played with (Nikolaj) before, and he’s played sometimes with Chris before…. He’ll make that adjustment real quick,” said Maurice. “After he gets two or three face offs, he’ll be right back to where he was.”

While the lines have changed, the end goal doesn’t. The Jets dropped both games in Alberta going into the three-day holiday break, and want to get back in the win column against a Penguins team that beat Minnesota 3-1 last night.

“Most days you look at the schedule and see a back-to-back night and you think ‘boy you’ve got a pretty good advantage going in’ but here you’re going ‘they’re more game ready than we are because they’ve had a game,’” said Maurice. “I’m not sure coming out of the break I feel any more easy because they played last night.”

The Jets are 9-5-1 at MTS Centre this season, while Pittsburgh is 8-7-1 on the road. The win over Minnesota was Pittsburgh’s sixth game under new head coach Mike Sullivan. After dropping the first four games under Sullivan, the Penguins have now won two straight.

“I’ve watched three of their games. There are differences in the way they played last night and maybe going into the break as well,” said Maurice. “It’s a battleship. It takes a while to get that thing, anything, turned in a slightly different direction. All I would say is they is they played as fast a game I thought, as smart a game as I’ve seen them play last night. We’re expecting that tonight.”

The puck drops at MTS Centre at 7 pm CT.

-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com

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