MONTREAL — Forward Max Pacioretty makes his return to Bell Centre when the Golden Knights meet the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Opening faceoff is 4 p.m. Pacific time, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
Pacioretty spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Canadiens and was the team’s captain before he was traded to the Knights on Sept. 9 in exchange for forward Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick in 2019.
“I definitely want to have fun playing in this building with another jersey. A lot of great memories here for 10 years,” Pacioretty said after morning skate. “But it’s an important game for our team. We’re coming off a big win and a couple really good games.
“We feel this trip could be a bit of a turning point for our year and that’s what we’re looking to do. And tonight’s a valuable game so I’ve got to treat it as that, more so than being emotional or taking too much in.”
Coach Gerard Gallant said he expects to use the same lineup from Thursday’s 5-3 victory at Ottawa, with Marc-Andre Fleury starting in net.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland rejoined the team Saturday and was on the ice at morning skate, but is not expected to play. Engelland missed the past two games for personal reasons.
“At the end of the day, it’s another hockey game, another opportunity for our team to win and battle back a little bit, and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Pacioretty said.
The Canadiens have lost two straight and will start backup goaltender Antti Niemi in place of former Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price, who has struggled in his 12 appearances.
Niemi was shelled in his previous start against the Knights on Feb. 17 at T-Mobile Arena, allowing three goals on six shots before getting yanked 9:51 into the first period. He is 3-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.
Max Domi leads the Canadiens with nine goals and 19 points, and Tatar is second on the club with 14 points (six goals, eight assists).
“I thought the last few games we’ve played real well,” Gallant said. “Hopefully we’ll play a good, solid game tonight.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty-Cody Eakin-Alex Tuch
Tomas Nosek-Ryan Carpenter-Tomas Hyka
William Carrier-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb-Colin Miller
Shea Theodore-Nick Holden
Jon Merrill-Brad Hunt