RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Thursday was a big day in the Max Pacioretty house.
“It was my son’s 4th birthday today so we had a lot of excitement in the household today,” said the Hurricanes forward. It was also an exciting day for Canes fans as well, seeing Pacioretty play his first game with Carolina.
The veteran forward played more than 16 minutes in the Hurricanes’ 5-3 loss to Nashville. Pacioretty had been sidelined for more than five months after suffering a torn Achilles in August.
“Yeah, I was kind of looking to either hit someone or get hit,” Pacioretty said of his first shift with the Canes. “You stop thinking after that. It was my goal and helped me get into the game.”
The 34-year-old Pacioretty was the Hurricanes prized off-season acquisition coming over from the Vegas Golden Knights. During his 14-year NHL career, the physical forward has scored more than 300 goals. Six times he’s scored more than 30 goals in a season.
“Yeah, he looked great,” said Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal of Pacioretty’s debut. “He was really good tonight, great to see him back he will be really good for us.”
“All he’s been through and how hard he’s worked to get here, it’s good to see him on the ice,” Staal added.
Pacioretty played on the Canes’ 4th line with Derek Stepan and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in his first game back but is expected to eventually find a home as a top-six forward. The plan was to ease him in to that role, but his play against the Predators may speed up that decision.
“He was better than I thought,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “He looked like he was ready to go right away. I was impressed.”