Reid Duke took the ice before Thursday night’s game in full uniform and warmed up with his teammates.
It was as close as he would get to making his NHL debut for now.
Duke, the first player signed by the organization, was called up from the American Hockey League on Wednesday.
The forward probably would have played against the Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena had Max Pacioretty experienced a pregame setback with the injury that kept him out of the lineup Tuesday. But Pacioretty was able to play.
The veteran Pacioretty, who entered Thursday’s game with 13 points in his past 10 games, said he will counsel Duke to keep it simple when he makes his debut.
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“Everyone on this team has been there, so you can just offer the advice to go out and play your game,” Pacioretty said. “When you’re young, every game is an audition. Everyone’s always watching your every move, so if you just go out there with the right attitude and do whatever it takes to help the team win hockey games, you’ll be all right.”
Reilly Smith agreed. The forward hasn’t skated much with Duke, but he thinks all young players need to trust their game.
“Just try to play your game,” Smith said. “You get called up for a reason. You’ve been given this opportunity for a reason. There’s no added benefit to changing your game too much, so work to your strengths and play like you would any other game.”
Duke skated with the third line at Thursday’s morning skate. His next chance to debut will be Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings.
Injured forward Paul Stastny also participated in Thursday’s morning skate, something he hadn’t done since suffering a lower-body injury in the third game. There is no timetable for his return.
“It’s real encouraging,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s good to see him out there on the ice. When guys come back, it means they’re getting close. How close I don’t know, but it’s the first step for him getting back with our group.
“He looked pretty good.”
Stastny had been skating on his own for the past few days at City National Arena.
Knights starting to believe
Pacioretty watched from the press box Tuesday with a minor injury when the Knights rallied for a 5-3 victory over the defending champion Washington Capitals. It was a rally he’s not so sure would have happened earlier in the season.
“It’s a tight league, so it’s really hard to win games,” he said. “I think you’ve seen the difference of having confidence and not. It might give you that extra 5 percent of putting pucks in the net or winning games as opposed to losing them. Earlier in the year, we probably wouldn’t have come back in that Washington game like they did because the confidence didn’t seem to be there.”