Habs mum on Pacioretty’s availability for playoff opener

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Montreal’s regular season scoring leader Max Pacioretty practiced with his teammates on Monday for the first time since suffering what is believed to be a concussion on April 5.

Pacioretty sported a tinted visor all but giving away the fact his “upper body injury” is in fact a concussion.

The 26-year-old called the practice a special teams practice adding he’ll need to test things out in a contact practice.

“Before playing a game, you try and practice with the team, full contact. Today was a special teams practice, so it was perfect timing to get back out there. I still have to be cleared for contact. That’s the next step,” said Pacioretty per the team’s website. “That’s the same with every injury. You could feel great skating around, but as soon as you start battling it doesn’t feel as good and you re-aggravate it. I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m still not completely over the hump.”

Pacioretty fell awkwardly following a hit from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

“I’ve responded really well to treatment. I’ve gotten better every day. I think the stuff that goes on behind the scenes is really what has made me feel a lot better. I’m taking it day by day and I’m feeling better. That’s what’s important,” said Pacioretty, who took shifts on the Habs’ first power play unit alongside David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau. “When you’re waiting in Florida, you’re thinking best or worst case possibilities. But, as soon as I got back and saw the doctor, I felt pretty comfortable and I felt confident that hopefully I could come back soon. It’s not something that we’re rushing at all, though.”

Coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t indicate when his top scorer would return to the lineup.

“We’ll use him when he’s ready, whether that’s Wednesday, Friday (Game 2), Sunday (Game 3 in Ottawa). We don’t know when,” said Therrien.

Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points in 80 regular season games.