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World Cup

Max Pacioretty big fan of Team USA linemates

Canadiens captain trying to make most of time at World Cup with Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Max Pacioretty didn't go so far as stop Team USA practices and ask his linemates for autographs, but the Montreal Canadians captain did have to maintain his focus to help center Joe Pavelski and right wing Patrick Kane.

The three form the top line for Team USA heading into the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which will be held at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1.

"I'm obviously always looking for those two," Pacioretty said following practice Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. "I'm trying to do the dirty work, but I've got to remember why they selected me as well and stick to my game and not turn into a fan out there.

"Two practices in, I got through the first and maybe a little bit of the second, I did feel like that. I wanted to make sure they got the puck. I'm more comfortable with them now. I've just got to calm down and focus on my game."

Pacioretty doesn't possess the passing, skating and goal-scoring skills of Kane, but few do. Pavelski has a knack for the puck finding him in scoring position, as evidenced by his 38 goals last season.

"[Pavelski] is a guy I try and watch a lot because he's really good at scoring goals, especially in tight areas," Pacioretty said. "I pattern my game after his a bit, at least around the net, and where to go and different techniques to get open."

Kane was the top scorer in the NHL last season with 106 points and was second with 46 goals, and Pavelski tied for sixth with 78 points. Pacioretty had 30 goals and 64 points.

"It's a line that can have some success, obviously, when you're matched up with two players like that," Kane said. "They have a proven track record of scoring goals in this League. I look at myself as a playmaker on a line trying to feed those guys, setting them up. At the same time you can't be surprised when they have the puck either because they can get it to you as well."

Video: Patrick Kane is the number one player right now

The key will be how quickly they mesh, beginning with the first of three pretournament games, against Team Canada at Nationwide Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; ESPNU, SN, TVA Sports).

"We've all played with some great players throughout our careers so I don't think that will be an issue," Pavelski said.

If the line can find some chemistry, it would take some of the burden off the rest of a Team USA lineup that is geared for a grittier game.

"I think it would be nice to have some success right away and hopefully continue throughout the tournament," Kane said.

Coach John Tortorella wants to get the most out of Kane, who in June became the first United States-born player to win the Hart Trophy as the League's most valuable player.

"He's going to be moved all over the place," Tortorella said. "[Kane] is going to be kind of a rover for me and bouncing around in a lot of different situations. I want to try and maximize him. … He won't be just with that line."

That's why Pacioretty wants to make the most of his time with Pavelski and Kane.

"Our line brings a little bit of everything in the way we contribute, but it's a matter of being comfortable with each other," he said. "I've got to go out there and be a little more confident playing with those two just to make sure I don't get away from my game."

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