Just as one Winnipeg forward returned to the lineup after recovering from a concussion, another is out with what might well be the same diagnosis.
Jets centre Adam Lowry left Thursday’s game with the Maple Leafs early after taking a hit to the head. Toronto forward Alex Galchenyuk was the guilty party, although no penalty was called.
Lowry played another shift before the period ended but did not emerge from the dressing room for the middle period. The team released a statement on Twitter that the seven-year NHL veteran was done for the evening.
Toronto eventually prevailed 5-3 to widen their lead atop the North Division.
Afterward, head coach Paul Maurice offered no information on Lowry’s status, and wasn’t in much of a mood to discuss the collision.
"I’ve got nothing on Lowry. The refs already made their decision on that hit, so what I’ve got to say doesn’t mean anything," said Maurice.
The Jets just welcomed back their captain, right-winger Blake Wheeler, after he missed six games owing to a concussion. He skated with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor on the top forward group.
In Lowry’s absence, Maurice juggled his remaining bottom five. Andrew Copp received time between Mason Appleton and Mathieu Perreault, and also joined Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis on the fourth line.
"We’ve got a lot of good players on our team able to fill in. It was a little bit different flow of the game after losing Lows," offered Wheeler. "He’s a big part and that line’s a big part of our team. So it’s obviously a big loss for us."
Lowry’s persistent physicality and defensive prowess on the third line and his dependability on the penalty kill make him indispensable.
The 28-year-old has eight goals and 20 points in 46 games this season.
"He’s a big part of our team, on and off the ice, brings a physical element, has centred that third line since I’ve been here and has been very, very good at it. I honestly really enjoy playing with him," said Copp. "But with that said, (Wheeler) was just out for six games. We’ve handled injuries numerous, numerous times. We’ve got a deep group up front, so I think we’re able to handle those injuries, handling that adversity with the makeup of our team
"But losing Adam, if it is losing Adam, obviously, it’s a big loss."
Lowry, drafted by Winnipeg in 2011, just signed a five-year contract extension, with an average annual value of US$3.25 million.
With just 11 healthy forwards, Maurice wasn’t able to get the matchups he might have desired.
"Yeah, it definitely changes it up but, sometimes when that happens, you’re not worried about the matchup. You’re not worried about what their team is throwing out," said Scheifele.
"We’ve got so many good players on this team that can play against anyone so, when you’re able to just find that rhythm where no matter who you’re playing against, you play good (defence), you play hard, the rest will just take over itself."
If he’s indeed sidelined, Maurice has options for Saturday’s rematch with Toronto.
Copp could slide to the middle, with Appleton and Perreault, while Jansen Harkins could come in and be reunited with centre Thompson and Lewis.
Maurice also has Manitoba Moose centre David Gustafsson at his disposal. The 21-year-old from Sweden scored his third goal of the season and set up another Thursday night at the Iceplex as the Jets’ AHL affiliate dumped the Stockton Heat 5-2.
Gustafsson played four games earlier in the season for the NHL club and suited up 22 times as a rookie during the 2019-20 campaign.
Wheeler wasn’t happy with the shoulder Galchenyuk delivered in open ice.
"Yeah, I did. It looked late and high. I mean, Lows is six inches taller than him, so you’ve got to get pretty high to get him," he said. "So, you don’t see Lows go down too often like that. Hopefully, he’s doing all right."
Maurice was asked if an immediate response should have come from someone in a navy jersey.
"If you circle a guy’s name on the board, you get sued."
Earlier in the day, the Jets reassigned Dominic Toninato, forward Joona Luoto and defenceman Nelson Nogier from the taxi squad to the Moose.
A pair of skaters, forward C.J. Suess and blue-liner Luke Green, went to the taxi squad.
Cole Perfetti, the Jets’ 2020 first-round pick, will continue his first pro season after it was announced earlier in the week the Ontario Hockey League officially shut down its season.
Perfetti fired his seventh goal against the Heat, to go with 11 assists in 25 contests.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).