All eyes were on Max Pacioretty at the Montreal Canadiens’ morning skate in preparation for Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Ottawa Senators.
After taking regular line rushes at Thursday’s practice for the first time since suffering a suspected concussion April 5, Pacioretty took one step closer Friday to returning to game-action Friday by shedding the tinted visor he’s been wearing since last Saturday.
“He’s feeling good,” said head coach Michel Therrien. “That’s a good sign [that Pacioretty removed his tinted visor]. He had a good practice yesterday, and this morning I know he felt really good, but I can’t confirm if he’ll be there tonight or Sunday [Game 3].”
Therrien couldn’t confirm Pacioretty’s status because he hadn’t yet spoken with the team’s medical staff for an update. However, he did provide confirmation that forward Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau–who participated in the morning skate–wouldn’t be available for Game 2 after suffering an upper-body injury Wednesday.
Game 1 featured 86 hits between both teams and the buzz in Montreal’s locker room after Friday’s skate was all about remaining disciplined in the aftermath of P.K. Subban’s series-altering slash on Mark Stone.
“It’s going to be an important part of the game,” said Brendan Gallagher on the Canadiens’ need to stay emotionally balanced against a Senators team that will be looking to avenge Stone’s injury. “We have to use the crowd; we have to use the emotions; we have to do everything to keep momentum on our side without giving it to [the Senators] by taking penalties.”
“Momentum switches so fast,” said Nathan Beaulieu of his limited experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It was an emotional game [Wednesday].”
Therrien was on the same page as his players.
“In the second period of Game 1, we had a quick lapse in discipline and we talked about it between the second and third period,” Therrien told reporters in French. “We reacted very well in the third period and we’re going to have to continue on that path.”
As for Ottawa’s discipline, Chris Neil told reporters after Thursday’s practice at the Bell Centre that he won’t hesitate to finish his checks on Subban should the Canadiens’ defenceman be skating with his head down. Neil could make his entry into this series should Stone not be available for Game 2.
Forward Zack Smith is also a possibility in Stone’s absence.
According to Senators general manager Bryan Murray, Stone suffered a micro-fracture and ligament damage in his right wrist and is questionable for the rest of the series.
Stone spent 10 minutes on the ice with his teammates at the Bell Centre this morning. Coach Dave Cameron called Stone’s participation in Game 2 a “game-time decision”.
Anticipated lines for the Canadiens for Game 2 are as follows:
Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Devante Smith-Pelly
Alex Galchenyuk-Tomas Plekanec-Brendan Gallagher
Jacob De La Rose-Lars Eller-Dale Weise
Brandon Prust-Torrey Mitchell-Brian Flynn
Andrei Markov-P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu-Tom Gilbert
Extras: Mike Weaver, Manny Malhotra, Joey MacDonald, Sergei Gonchar and Greg Pateryn.