Looking to snap their longest regulation losing streak in nearly 15 years, the Canucks added to their woes instead on Thursday dropping a 5-2 decision to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Max Pacioretty recorded his third-career hat trick, and also had two failed penalty shot attempts, in a wild and wacky game that unfortunately had an all-too-familiar ending as far as the Canucks were concerned.
Ryan White and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Habs, while Chris Higgins and Alexander Edler had the goals for the Canucks, who dropped their sixth consecutive game in regulation marking their longest such streak since they lost six in a row from March 13 to 25, 1999.
The Pacioretty show started late in the first period on a Canadiens' power play when the American Olympian opened the scoring after having a P.K. Subban point shot deflect off his knee and past Roberto Luongo. The Habs would stretch their lead to 2-0 just 63 seconds later with Ryan White beating Luongo on a goal set-up in part by ex-Canuck Dale Weise.
After Higgins' power play marker early in the second period drew the Canucks back within one, Pacioretty was back at work drawing a pair of penalty shots in the middle frame only to be denied both times by Roberto Luongo, who ultimately finished the night stopping 24 of 28 shots.
Pacioretty would make up for his missed attempts early in the final frame restoring the Habs' two-goal lead less than five minutes into the period after taking a nifty spin-o-rama feed from David Desharnais and depositing the puck up and over a prone Luongo. He'd cap off his night with an empty-netter with 68 seconds remaining in regulation.
While Pacioretty ended up stealing the show, much of the hype leading up to the contest centered on the head-to-head battle between soon-to-be Canadian Olympic teammates Luongo and Carey Price.
Price was easily the better man on this night turning aside 42 of 44 shots in the victory.
The Canucks close out their five-game road trip and play their final game before the Olympic break on Saturday when they head into Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs.
CANUCKS HISTORY: In the span of 2:51 in the second period, Max Pacioretty became the second player in the history to have two penalty shot attempts against the Canucks (former Wild forward Antti Laaksonen was the first in 2003.04) and then became the first player to record three career penalty shot attempts versus Vancouver when he was awarded his second penalty shot of the frame. Pacioretty is 0-for-3 in his career in penalty shot attempts versus Vancouver failing to score on all three chances he's been awarded this season. The Habs, as a team, are 0-for-4 all-time in penalty shot attempts against the Canucks.
NHL HISTORY: Speaking of Pacioretty, he became just the second player in NHL history to be awarded two penalty shots in the same game as well as the same period. The first was Erik Cole, then with the Carolina Hurricanes, on November 9, 2005 in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Cole scored on his first attempt against Martin Biron but was stopped on his second chance. Both of his attempts came in the third period. On a related note, tonight's game marked the first time the Canucks have allowed two penalty shot attempts in the same contest. Vancouver, on the other hand, has twice been awarded two penalty shots in the same game – February 11, 1982 against Detroit (Thomas Gradin and Ivan Hlinka both scored on Gilles Gilbert) and January 5, 2006 against Chicago (Alex Burrows was stopped but Jarkko Ruutu scored on Craig Anderson).
NOTES AND NUMBERS: The Canucks announced earlier on Thursday that team captain Henrik Sedin would sit out the final two games prior to the Olympic break, including Thursday's contest, and would not be participating in the 2014 Games for Sweden... Alex Burrows registered an assist on Edler's third period power play marker. The point was the 299th of his NHL career... The Canucks are 1-8-1 in their last 10 road outings... Ex-Canuck Dale Weise registered an assist in 10:28 of ice-time for Montreal while ex-Hab Raphael Diaz notched his second point in as many games for the Canucks with an assist on Edler's goal... The 44 shots registered by the Canucks were tied for their second-most this season, three shy of the 47 they posted against Toronto back on November 2.