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Max Pacioretty returns to the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens will be on the hunt to bounce back from their overtime loss to take on the Max Pacioretty and the Vegas Golden Knights.

We all had this day circled after the Montreal Canadiens pulled the trigger on the trade. It took place in the wee hours of the night, but after months of speculation, buzz, and noise, Max Pacioretty was a Hab no more. Marc Bergevin added Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick while saying goodbye to a long time member of the organization and a captain.

That was nearly two months ago. Since then, Montreal has seen good things out of both players in the deal. Tatar has been the perfect fit on the top line along with Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault. The 28-year-old isn’t known to be a sniper, but he’s had a true offensive impact on the team in the first 16 games of the season.

Tatar is currently second in scoring on the Montreal Canadiens with six goals and eight assists. A good chunk of those helpers have been from Gallagher tallies, but they are well-deserved. He’s recognized and matched the style of number 11 knowing his tendencies and where he’ll be on the rush or zone entry.

As for Suzuki, he showed good things during training camp and is continuing that in another season with the Owen Sound Attack putting up 25 points in 16 games.

Pacioretty hasn’t had the best start in Vegas. The 29-year-old has two goals so far this season and is recently coming off an injury that saw him miss four games. Perhaps tonight against the Habs sparks him a bit, but hew, as well as the Golden Knights, haven’t been as dangerous as they were last year.

It’ll be an emotional night on both ends. The Montreal Canadiens could run with similar lines and pairings they had against the Rangers or choose Claude Julien may decide to change things up. If it’s the former, the lineup should look like this:

FORWARDS:

Tatar-Danault-Gallagher
Drouin-Domi-Shaw
Agostino-Kotkaniemi-Lehkonen
Deslauriers-Peca-Hudon

DEFENCE:

Benn-Petry
Alzner-Reilly
Ouellet-Mete

Antti Niemi has already been given the green light to get the start against the Golden Knights. He’s 3-1 on the season with a .893 save percentage, but it is far from representing how he’s played. The veteran has given the Habs an opportunity a chance to win every night, and the same can’t be said for Carey Price who has struggled a bit as of late.

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Vegas is coming off a Thursday victory against the Ottawa Senators that had their fourth line play like the first. William Carrier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored the final two goals of the game to put the Golden Knights on top 5-3.

The team hasn’t had the best start to their season, mostly because of goaltending and a depletion of their scoring depth. Jonathan Marchessault is leading the way with seven goals and seven assists followed by William Karlsson who has 11 points. There hasn’t been too much goal scoring from Karlsson after his 43-goal performance last season, but that may be expected given his shooting percentage.

That said, the Golden Knights aren’t giving up and have aspirations to make it to the playoffs for the second year of their existence.

FORWARDS

Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith

Pacioretty-Eakin-Tuch

Nosek-Carpenter-Hyka

Carrier-Bellemare-Reaves

DEFENCE

McNabb-Miller

Theodore-Holden

Merrill-Hunt

Next: Domi is proving his worth

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Of course, all eyes will be on Pacioretty, and it will be important for the Montreal Canadiens to respond and play their game. Vegas has always prided themselves in being a team that drives speed through the middle and forechecks strongly. The Habs aren’t any different making the odds of this night being high-end all the more likely.

 

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