Max Pacioretty left the Montreal Canadiens game early last night with an unknown lower body injury, but the American winger will be able to head to Sochi this afternoon with his countrymen and future teammates.
Pacioretty was driving toward the Carolina Hurricanes net with seven minutes remaining in the first period of last night’s game when he was shoved by Brett Bellemore. Max lost his footing and crashed hard into the Hurricanes net, and stayed down on the ice for several minutes until he was helped off by the team’s trainer.
Max would not return to the game, his night finished after just 4:16 time on the ice for the night. It was feared he would not be able to head to Sochi, Russia and suit up for the United States this week, but just when Bobby Ryan started packing his bags, Pacioretty announced he would be fine and heading overseas today with the rest of the Olympians.
Max said after the game that he was heading to Sochi and also mentioned that he stayed out of the game mostly as a precaution. He said the team wanted to play things safe and that it was the best idea not to risk further injury by forcing himself back into game action.
Pacioretty would have been sorely missed by the American Olympic team if he were unable to attend the games. He is fourth in goals amongst players born in the United States with 26, trailing snipers Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Kane. Max also leads Americans with seven game winning goals on the NHL season.
The United States are in the toughest group at the Olympics, and will play Slovakia and Russia before closing out the Preliminary Round against Slovenia. The 25 year old from New Canaan, Connecticut will be playing in his first Olympics.
The United States first game is Thursday when Pacioretty will face Canadien teammate Peter Budaj and the rest of Team Slovakia.