It seemed like nothing else could possibly go wrong for the Montreal Canadiens. Since November, they’ve fallen from the top of the Atlantic Division to outside a playoff position, the offense is sputtering and it doesn’t look like Carey Price is going to be back until at least late February. So, again, it didn’t seem like anything else could possibly go wrong.
Well, the Canadiens incredible bad luck continued Tuesday night as captain Max Pacioretty was forced to exit their contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets after Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban blasted a puck that was deflected by Blue Jackets winger Scott Hartnell before catching the Canadiens winger square in the cheek:
Pacioretty, 27, hit the ice immediately after catching the puck in the face, but was able to get to his feet and skate off on his own. The Canadiens medical staff walked alongside Pacioretty, but he was able to get to the dressing room without much help at all.
There was uncertainty about whether or not Pacioretty would return. He didn’t come back for the remainder of the second frame, and the Canadiens announced before the third period began that Pacioretty would be unable to return. Montreal cited only an injury, although that’s likely to have an “upper-body” tacked on if Pacioretty is out for any length of time.
The good news for the Canadiens is that the injury comes just before the all-star break, meaning Pacioretty will have time to recover during a break from action. That may mean he misses fewer — or possibly zero — games due to injury. However, if it’s a long-term ailment for Pacioretty, it means Montreal will be without their greatest offensive weapon.
Pacioretty has 19 goals and 36 points in 49 games this season and is on pace for his fourth consecutive 30-goal season, excluding the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign in which he scored 15 goals in 44 games.
UPDATE: Per TVA Sports' Renaud Lavoie, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said post-game that Pacioretty will be OK. Montreal will be back in action Feb. 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and it appears likely Pacioretty will be able to suit up.