BUFFALO, N.Y. — Enzo Pacioretty was watching the NHL Network recently when the 6-year-old asked his father if he was going to make the All-Star team.
“I said, ‘Probably not, bud,’ ” Max Pacioretty recalled. “And he got pretty upset, and he said, ‘But I really want you to make it.’
“That’s kind of when I was like, ‘All right, that would be pretty cool if I could take my family, take the kids there and experience that. That’s the real reason why I was pretty excited about getting the nod.”
Pacioretty was added last week to the Pacific Division team for the Jan. 24-25 event in St. Louis. He replaced Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg, who was excused from the event for the impending birth of his child.
It will be the first All-Star Game appearance for the 31-year-old Pacioretty, who was always passed over during his time with Montreal in favor of high-profile teammates such as Carey Price, P.K. Subban or Shea Weber.
“If I had gone before, I wouldn’t be able to experience it the first time with my kids,” Pacioretty said. “I told my son that I was going to be on Connor McDavid’s team and his eyes just lit up like he saw a ghost. I said I still better be his favorite player after that, but it’s pretty cool to see that.”
Pacioretty leads the Knights in scoring with 45 points in 48 games, and he reached the 20-goal plateau for the seventh time in his 12-year career.
He said he’s looking forward to playing in the pressure-free atmosphere at the All-Star Game, but admitted he is anxious about the skills competition.
“I’m pretty nervous for that. I don’t know how it works,” Pacioretty said. “Someone said I might be able to choose, but I don’t know if that’s right. I just hope I don’t get one that’s too nerve-wracking.”
Left wing Jonathan Marchessault was a full participant in the Knights’ practice Monday at KeyBank Center and said he is close to returning after missing the past five games with a lower-body injury.
Coach Gerard Gallant said the club will make a decision whether Marchessault plays Tuesday against the Sabres following the morning skate, but all signs point to him being available.
“It’s like every injury. You want to come back, but you’re not going to come back at 70 or 80 percent,” Marchessault said. “You’ve got to be able to come back and give everything you’ve got to help your team. That’s the way I want to come back.”
The club announced the creation of the “Knights Salute” program, which allows season-ticket holders to make a $200 donation that will allow “deserving individuals and groups in our community” to attend a Knights home game.
The individuals and groups include Las Vegas Metro, first responders, Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base and all other military members, Clark County school teachers and administrators as well as charitable organizations.