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This article was published 9/3/2020 (358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Adam Lowry didn't take long to remind NHL rivals about his distinctive skill set. It came like a jolt Monday night.
The veteran Winnipeg Jets power forward, returning to the lineup after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury, used his rehabbed body to thump Arizona forward Vinnie Hinostroza with a crushing check two minutes into the first period and then capped his opening shift with a clear decision in a fight with Lawson Crouse of the Coyotes.
Crouse was unhappy about the hit and Lowry obliged.
"I think the first shift you want to get some bumps in, you want to make sure your body’s feeling good," said Lowry. "Obviously you have some controlled contact and a little bit of bumping in practice, but there’s nothing like the physicality of a game.
"So you get that out of the way. I figured I’d just try to give the fans something to cheer about early. Chances are it wasn’t going to be a goal. So I had to give them a little something."
Lowry's impact was anticipated by head coach Paul Maurice.
"I thought there would be a hit coming early in that game," said Maurice. "I thought he was going to try to get back in, though I wasn’t really looking for a fight on the first shift. But, now that that is out of the way and there’s no injury, we’re good."
If the sequence inspired the hosts, the effects were temporary.
Winnipeg fell behind 2-0 after 20 minutes but Lowry went back to work in the middle frame, rocking Arizona defenceman Ilya Lybushkin with the best hit of the game.
He finished the night with a game-high four hits, won seven of 13 faceoffs in a modest 10:39 of ice time. But the rhythm of the game was back under Winnipeg's control.
"To come back, you don’t want to come into the lineup and be a negative drag, have a negative effect," said Lowry. "So to help kind of continue the winning ways, the guys have been playing so well these past couple of months in the battle for the playoffs. So to be able to come back and especially in a win, it’s a really good feeling."
Lowry was reunited with Andrew Copp and Jack Roslovic on the club's shutdown third line, which Maurice said transforms how opponents defend against his team.
"It changes the way the defence views our team," said Maurice. "When the puck gets put in deep, there’s a line out there looking to get a piece of you and that changes the way you view the game. Having that element, you start to see other players — I think we have video of Jack Roslovic throwing a hit tonight — so it brings other guys into the fight."
Lowry's return meant another lineup adjustment for Maurice, who chose to sit rookie Jansen Harkins.
Harkins had performed admirably since being recalled from the AHL's Manitoba Moose, scoring two goals and seven points in 29 games.
"It's always unfortunate that a guy has to come out of the lineup when somebody comes back in," said Lowry. "Especially with the way he's been playing. Early on, his game has grown by leaps and bounds.
"You see right now, he's starting to develop some chemistry with Rosie and Copper. You see how he uses his speed. You can definitely tell why he's putting up such good numbers in the American league."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.