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Max Pacioretty set to return for Golden Knights against Chicago

Updated August 9, 2020 - 4:42 pm

The Golden Knights should be at full strength for their first-round playoff series with Chicago.

Left wing Max Pacioretty is in Edmonton, Alberta, and expected to play in Game 1 against the Blackhawks, coach Pete DeBoer said Sunday.

“It gives us a lot more depth,” DeBoer said. “It adds our leading scorer back into our lineup. It helps our power play. He helps us in a lot of different areas.”

Pacioretty, who led the Knights with 32 goals and 66 points in the regular season, sustained a minor injury during training camp. He hasn’t practiced since July 19 and didn’t travel with his teammates to the NHL’s Edmonton bubble July 26. He missed the team’s exhibition and three round-robin games.

DeBoer said Pacioretty completed his mandatory quarantine and is expected to practice with the team on Monday. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the length of Pacioretty’s quarantine was determined by NHL medical staff. Daly declined to say how long Pacioretty had to quarantine.

DeBoer didn’t say how he would change his forward lines with Pacioretty back.

Despite Pacioretty’s absence, the Knights have excelled offensively in the postseason. They scored 15 goals in three round-robin games, tops among playoff teams.

Sixteen of the team’s 18 skaters have recorded a point. Eleven skaters have multiple points.

“They have a lot of depth,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We need the full group every night, just being ready from puck drop. If we do that, we feel like we have a chance to compete.”

Inside information

DeBoer said he picked Robin Lehner’s brain Sunday to get the goaltender’s thoughts on the Blackhawks. Lehner played 33 games for Chicago this season.

Of course, the Blackhawks have plenty of information on Lehner, too. Chicago center Dylan Strome said he didn’t know who would have the advantage if he had a breakaway on his former netminder.

“I think (that familiarity) can go both ways,” Strome said. “He’s a great goalie. We shot at him a lot in practice. He’s definitely a vocal guy and likes to have fun.”

DeBoer hasn’t said whether Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury will start Game 1.

Avs game provides blueprint

The Blackhawks are a run-and-gun team. They had the seventh-most five-on-five scoring chances in the NHL, according to Natural Stat Trick, but finished last in scoring chances allowed.

To be successful against Chicago, DeBoer hopes the Knights play like they did Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. The Knights held the Western Conference’s highest-scoring team to one five-on-five goal and won 4-3 in overtime.

“Our attention to detail defensively was good, but we didn’t do it at the expense of offense,” DeBoer said. “We still found a way to create offense ourselves. That’s the fine line you’re looking for.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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