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Canadiens' Pacioretty injured, recovery til October

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty injured his knee during an off-ice workout Thursday and his recovery is expected to take 12 weeks, the team announced Friday.

The Canadiens open their season at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 7, a few days past that 12-week timetable.

Pacioretty led Montreal with 37 goals and a career-high 67 points last season. He has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past three full NHL seasons.

NHL training camps open in mid-September, and the 12-week recovery timeline would suggest Pacioretty won't be ready in time for the start of Canadiens camp. That may impact how prepared he will be for the regular season. The exact injury, which occurred in Florida, was not revealed, nor if he required surgery.

Pacioretty, 26, has an established history of recovering more quickly than originally estimated.

He was injured April 5 at the Florida Panthers when he hit the end boards awkwardly, giving him what was later revealed to be a concussion. The injury sidelined him for 12 days and kept him out of the final two games of the regular season and the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's impossible to say if Pacioretty recovered quicker than expected from his concussion because the Canadiens never revealed how long he would be out. But there are other examples of Pacioretty coming back sooner than he was supposed to.

At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the Canadiens announced Pacioretty would miss three weeks with a hamstring injury. He played 16 days later.

In February 2013, Pacioretty returned to play eight days after he had an appendectomy, a procedure that originally called for a recovery time of 3-4 weeks.

The most significant injury of Pacioretty's career came March 8, 2011 when he sustained what the Canadiens originally described as a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture of the C4 vertebra in his neck when he was hit into a stanchion by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Pacioretty's concussion symptoms subsided relatively quickly, and nine days after the original injury, on March 17, the Canadiens announced he could be back in time for the start of the playoffs, which were to begin a little less than a month later.

Pacioretty skated for the first time on April 1, 2011, a little more than three weeks after the injury, but was not cleared in time for the playoffs. The Canadiens were eliminated in seven games by the Bruins in the first round, and Pacioretty revealed after the series that he would have been cleared to play in the second round if the Canadiens had advanced.

Pacioretty was tied for first in the NHL in plus-minus last season (plus-38; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning), second in game-winning goals (10), tied for fifth in goals, and tied for 21st in scoring.

Pacioretty has 144 goals and 136 assists (280 points) in 399 NHL games, including 21 game-winning goals the past two seasons.

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