TORONTO — Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green says he’s optimistic leading scorer Elias Pettersson won’t be out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
The dynamic Swede injured his right knee in the second period of Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal when he got tied up with fellow rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Pettersson was originally scheduled to have an MRI on Friday, but Green said the team would know more after Saturday’s scan.
Green added he didn’t know why the MRI wasn’t done Friday as originally planned.
Pettersson, 20, remained with the Canucks following the injury instead of being sent back to Vancouver for further evaluation.
“I’m hopeful he can play very soon,” Green said before his team faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. “The sooner the better.
“He looks good. He’s walking around pretty well.”
Pettersson easily leads all NHL rookies with 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) — 17 more than Ottawa Senators centre Colin White heading into the weekend.
The NHL’s rookie of the month in both October and December, Pettersson was named Vancouver’s all-star representative earlier this week.
“He’s smarter than everybody else, so he can stand still and create space,” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said Friday. “You can say lots of things about him — he doesn’t look like he’s that strong. He just has the puck the whole time.
“Everybody keeps backing off, so he has space and he can shoot it and he can pass it and he sees it. He looks like a real player to me.”
Vancouver (20-20-4), which has been shut out in two of its last three, is 3-2-0 on a six-game road trip that wraps up Saturday, while Toronto (26-12-2) will be looking to snap a two-game slide. The Leafs have yet to lose three in a row this season.
The Canucks managed to go 3-3-0 in the six games Pettersson missed earlier this season because of injury, but scored just nine goals in regulation during that span.
Vancouver will have its first four-day break of the season after the game in Toronto, and plays just six more times — all at home — the rest of January.
“There’s no magic formula,” Green said of generating offence minus Pettersson. “Our team is a bit of a blue-collar team, especially when you take Petey out of the lineup.”
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press