Hurricanes’ Max Pacioretty suffers non-contact injury, coach Rod Brind’Amour ‘not too optimistic’

Hurricanes forward Max Pacioretty #67 had to be helped off the ice on Thursday. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes earned a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but an injury to forward Max Pacioretty cast a shadow on the evening.

Pacioretty, who only made his season debut on Jan. 5 after recovering from an Achilles tear, went down with a non-contact injury with only 20 seconds remaining in the contest. He appeared to grab at his lower right leg and had to be helped to the locker room. He was unable to put any weight on the leg, which was the same one he had surgery on last summer.

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour is hoping to get good news as Pacioretty heads for an MRI on Friday, but is realistically preparing for the worst.

“We know what kind of player he is,” Brind’Amour said. We got a glimpse of it and that was exciting. It’s the kind of player that we needed, a guy who could put the puck in the net. Hopefully it’s not as bad as we think, but I’m not too optimistic right now.

We’re going to have to pick up the pieces and move on. That’s the nature of the game. But right now it’s tough to be too happy about a win when you know what is more than likely happening here.”

Pacioretty’s teammates were devastated to see the 34-year-old go down, especially knowing what his extensive rehab process to get back on the ice was like.

“It definitely put a damper on the win a little bit,” defenseman Brady Skjei told reporters after the game. “After seeing how much work he’s put into this point, we’re just thinking about him right now. It was just really, really tough to see.”

Carolina acquired Pacioretty from the Golden Knights in July in a cost-saving move for Vegas. He is in the final season of a four-year contract that carries a $7 million cap hit. The 2020 All-Star has three goals in five games for the Hurricanes in 2022-23.

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