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Game Preview: Canadiens @ Canucks

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (2-2-0) AT CANUCKS (3-2-0)

The Canadiens will play their third road game in four days when they go up against the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday night.

The Habs are coming off their first road victory of the 2013-14 campaign – a convincing 4-1 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night. In his first start of the season, Peter Budaj turned aside 27 of 28 shots against, while Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty lit the lamp for Michel Therrien’s squad at Rexall Place en route to handing the Oilers their third loss in four games played this season. P.K. Subban recorded three assists in the win, while Daniel Briere collected his first regular season point as a member of the Canadiens, registering an assist on Pacioretty’s empty-net goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens on Saturday night. The Anahim Lake, BC native will be making his fourth start of the season. He is 3-1-1 in five career starts against Vancouver, including a 2-1-0 record at Rogers Arena. Captain Brian Gionta will not be available for the tilt. He returned to Montreal on Friday afternoon for family reasons. In his absence, Ryan White will be in the lineup against Vancouver.

The Canucks dropped their most recent outing 4-1 to the undefeated Sharks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena. The loss snapped Vancouver’s three-game winning streak. It was also the Canucks’ first loss of the year on home ice, and the second time John Tortorella’s troops fell to San Jose in the early part of the 2013-14 campaign. Mike Santorelli was the lone Canuck who managed to beat Sharks netminder Antti Niemi on the night, as the Vancouver, BC native notched his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Roberto Luongo, meanwhile, allowed three goals on 28 shots, dropping his record to 2-2-0 in four starts. He will get the start again on Saturday night against the Canadiens.

While the Canucks will be deprived of both Alexandre Burrows and Jordan Schroeder due to injury, defenseman Alex Edler will also not be available for Vancouver. Edler was suspended for three games for an illegal check to the head of San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl in Thursday night’s game. Former Hab Yannick Weber will take Edler's place in the lineup against the Canadiens. The perennial Western conference powerhouse could also welcome Zack Kassian back into their lineup for Saturday night’s tilt. Kassian served an eight-game suspension (three pre-season, five regular season) for a stick-swinging incident that resulted in Oilers forward Sam Gagner suffering a broken jaw back in September.

The Sedin twins, meanwhile, are off to a hot start for Vancouver. The pair lead the Canucks with six points each through five games. While Daniel has two goals and four assists, Henrik has amassed six assists and a plus-three differential to lead the squad in both categories.

The Canucks also boast a penalty-killing unit that is firing on all cylinders, having yet to concede a goal to the opposition in 16 opportunities, while also accounting for two shorthanded markers.

In their last visit to Vancouver during the 2011-12 season, the Canadiens bested the Canucks 4-1. The win was the Canadiens’ 35th in 60 trips to the Lower Mainland. The two clubs will do battle again on February 6 in Montreal.

Puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST.

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