It couldn’t come at a better time for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Strapped for scoring, Golden Knights leading scorer Max Pacioretty is strapping on the blades for the first time in 12 games. He missed the last six games of the regular season yet still led the team in goals with 24 this year, and his absence has been felt deeply by a team that’s been shut out twice and scored only two goals in three losses this series.
Pacioretty hasn’t played since May 1 after sustaining an injury against the Arizona Coyotes. Without him, Vegas has had trouble scoring goals, especially in the playoffs. Pacioretty’s linemate Mark Stone has four goals against the Wild, and Alex Tuch – who took Pacioretty’s spot on the first line – has three goals. Those seven goals represent exactly half of the Golden Knights offensive output in the series, with several big names missing from the scoresheet.
In 23 playoff games with the Vegas Golden Knights, Pacioretty has 10 goals and 19 points. There’s no way to succinctly state what his return to the lineup means both physically and mentally for the VGK. The lift just seeing 67 on the bench will give teammates is massive. Plus it will make the Wild arch an eyebrow and ask the same question you and I would: how healthy is he really?
Regardless of the actual level of health for Pacioretty, if he’s in the lineup it means management thinks he can make a difference. Skate laces crossed that it’s enough to get Vegas into the second round against the Colorado Avalanche.