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Canadiens' Pacioretty won't play Game 1 vs. Senators

by Sean Farrell /

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens will not have leading scorer Max Pacioretty in their lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA, ROOT, MSG).

Montreal coach Michel Therrien confirmed Pacioretty will not play after the Canadiens morning skate at their suburban practice facility.

Pacioretty led the Canadiens this season with 37 goals and 67 points and had a plus-38 rating that tied for the NHL lead. Therrien said it was possible the 26-year-old left wing would be able to return for Game 2 on Friday.

"Like I said at the beginning of the week, we'll take him when he's back at 100 percent," Therrien said. "It was possible that it would have been [Wednesday], but that's obviously not the case. It could be Friday, it could be Sunday, so as soon as we get the OK from the medical team we'll be very happy to have him back in the lineup."

Pacioretty stayed on the ice after the morning skate with the extras as he continues to work his way back from an upper-body injury that sidelined him the final two games of the regular season.

He left early in the Canadiens' 4-1 win at the Florida Panthers on April 5 after the back of his helmet struck the boards when he fell backward after he was hit by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Pacioretty averaged 19:23 of ice time in 80 games. He scored seven power-play goals and tied with center Tomas Plekanec for the team lead in shorthanded goals with three.

"We played three games without [Pacioretty]," Therrien said. "It's a big loss, there's no doubt about that, and it was a big loss last week and we can't wait that he'll be back in our lineup. But you know what, I believe our guys really stepped up their games and they did a really good job and we've got to continue in that direction."

Montreal won its final three regular-season games to claim the Atlantic Division title with a 50-22-10 record for 110 points.

Left wing Alex Galchenyuk moved into Pacioretty's spot on the top line with Plekanec and right wing Brendan Gallagher.

"When players go down there's always chances for guys to rise in certain occasions," Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu said. "[Pacioretty] not being there in the last couple of games gave opportunities to guys to step up who don't necessarily see those looks, so if that's the case, then guys are ready to step in, and if there are holes to fill, then that's what you've got to do in the playoffs."

Senators coach Dave Cameron wasn't relaxing any at the thought of not having to face Pacioretty in the series opener.

"Hockey clubs are good for a reason, and that's because they're able to deal with guys in and out of the lineup," he said. "We expect a very, very good hockey club tonight."

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