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Jets center Scheifele out against Penguins

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

PENGUINS (17-14-3) at JETS (15-17-2)

TV: ROOT, TSN3

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will be without center Mark Scheifele when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at MTS Centre on Sunday.

Scheifele collided with captain Andrew Ladd at practice Saturday and sustained a concussion. The Jets placed Scheifele on injured reserve and recalled forward Adam Lowry from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Coach Paul Maurice said Scheifele will be out of the lineup for at least a week, but he could not provide a more specific timeline for Scheifele's return.

"This [injury] is not one [Scheifele] is coming back from unless he is 100 percent," Maurice said. "When he is at 100 percent, and the doctor says he is at 100 percent clear, then he'll be ready to play. We won't be pushing the envelope at all with this. When he steps back into uniform or a full-contact practice, it is going to be at 100 percent."

Scheifele, 22, has anchored the second line and ranks fourth in team scoring with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 34 games. His 12 goals are second to center Bryan Little. Lowry has a goal and seven assists in 31 games this season. He had four assists in a four-game AHL stint.

A flurry of line changes have followed with Scheifele out of the lineup. Sitting in last place in the Central Division, the Jets have lost two consecutive games and five of their past seven.

"It's not all a function of [Scheifele's] injury," Maurice said of the line changes.

Drew Stafford will replace Ladd on the first line with Little and Blake Wheeler. Ladd will take a spot on the second line with Lowry moving to center. Alexander Burmistrov will shift from third-line center to right wing.

"I think that any time you're not winning hockey games, there is going to be some change, and you're trying to find the right recipe for your group and different roles that can help your team win," Ladd said.

After a strong rookie season, Lowry has struggled in a bottom-six role on the wing. He played center with Manitoba and responded well to the Dec. 16 demotion.

"I think those four [AHL] games were good for me," Lowry said. "I was able to handle the puck and play some big minutes."

Rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will start for the seventh time in the past eight games.

The Penguins will try to win three games in a row for the first time since Oct. 31-Nov. 6. Pittsburgh did not have a morning skate after a late arrival following a 3-1 win at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Defenseman Kris Letang briefly left the game in the third period Saturday after a hit by Minnesota forward Jarret Stoll. He later returned and is expected to play Sunday.

It has not been confirmed whether rookie goaltender Matthew Murray will make his third consecutive start. If he does not, Jeff Zatkoff would start.

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron

Conor Sheary - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy

Trevor Daley - Ian Cole

Jeff Zatkoff

Matthew Murray

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion)

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Sergei Plotnikov, David Warsofsky

JETS

Drew Stafford - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Adam Lowry - Alexander Burmistrov

Chris Thorburn - Mathieu Perreault - Nikolaj Ehlers

Joel Armia - Andrew Copp - Matt Halischuk

Jacob Trouba - Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Ben Chiarot

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Ondrej Pavelec (knee), Mark Scheifele (concussion)

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso, Paul Postma

Status report: Perreault, who had been a second-line left wing, will move in a third-line center role.

Who's hot: Cullen, Hornqvist and Perron each have two-game point streaks…Winnipeg is 4-1-0 in its past five home games and on a 6-2-0 run at MTS Centre…Myers has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past four games…Wheeler has seven assists in a four-game point streak.

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