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This article was published 7/12/2017 (1506 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SUNRISE, Fla. — If its preventive efforts weren’t so tough to ignore, the third line of the Winnipeg Jets might have been ripped apart by now.
But how do you discount the tremendous work of Adam Lowry, Brandon Tanev and Andrew Copp as part of the NHL club’s winning formula?
Lately, when the Lowry trio is on the ice, not much seems to be happening — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the fourth-year has just one goal in eight contests and his wingers are caught in extended scoring droughts, they’re making it tough on opposing lines to do much offensive damage.
The other night in Detroit, Winnipeg yielded five goals during five-on-five play in a 5-1 defeat to the Red Wings, but the third line wasn’t on the hook for any of them. The only other Jets player without a minus by his name was defenceman Dmitry Kulikov, whose play, interestingly, was singled out by head coach Paul Maurice during his post-game comments.
Lowry’s line also fired six shots at Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who snapped out out his pad to make an outstanding save off Copp in the second period with the Jets only down by a goal.
That’s been Copp’s luck lately. Prior to Thursday’s battle here with the Florida Panthers, the 23-year-old from Ann Arbor, Mich., hadn’t scored in 11 contests dating back to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 4.
"I think we’re playing in the offensive end more than the stats will show, we’ve been cycling well, we’ve had a ton of chances," said Copp following Thursday’s morning skate. "I’m probably the biggest culprit not being able to bury. It’s something we have to bear down on for us as a line to take the next step. We’ve had such good puck control down low and we’re working their (defence). We just have to finish."
Tanev had just a pair of goals this season prior to the matchup with the Panthers, the last tally coming 20 games ago when the team fell 2-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime. Lowry, meanwhile, went seven games without a goal before finally registering one Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
Despite their inability to light the lamp, the linemates find solace in knowing they’ve allowed very few recently.
"As a line, we’re doing our job. We’re going out there and doing what the teams needs from us," Tanev said. "We all understand our role and our strengths to play well as a line, we’re communicating and playing pretty effectively.
"We’re getting chances and the puck’s not bouncing our way. You might think of changing things up if the chances weren’t there, but I think over this stretch, we’ve created some great opportunities."
The three skaters have pretty much been joined at the hip since Lowry returned Nov. 6 from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for nine games. In 15 games since, the trio has supplied just four goals, but the ice isn’t tilted toward the Jets’ net when they’re on the ice. In fact, they’re a combined plus-six, thanks to some ice time when other forwards dent the twine or timely tallies by their teammates on the blue line.
Copp said the good habits are there, and he believes the line’s work will soon bear fruit.
"We’re not just forechecking, hitting them and watching them break out, we’re controlling the puck and making plays," he said. "So, it’s time we start scoring a few and growing our game."
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).