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Canadiens visit Canucks, go for 10th straight win

by Kevin Woodley

CANADIENS (9-0-0) at CANUCKS (3-2-3)


VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks will tweak their forward lines against the streaking Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, when they try to avoid becoming part of a couple of historic streaks.

Montreal is attempting to become the third team in NHL history to win its first 10 games, and Vancouver is trying to avoid the longest losing streak on home ice to start a season in its history. The Canucks are 0-2-3 at Rogers Arena, matching their worst start at home since 1994-95, and would set the record for futility if they don't defeat the Canadiens.

"Obviously, it's big; Montreal is No.1 in the League," said Canucks forward Brandon Prust, who was traded from the Canadiens in the summer. "But to finally win one at home is our biggest task."

Vancouver has played the role of spoiler before, ending the Detroit Red Wings NHL record 23-game home winning streak late in the 2011-12 season.

"It's always fun to go up against maybe the best team in the League right now and their winning streak, trying to end that," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "It was the same situation a few years back with Detroit, and we stopped that. These are fun games."

To do so, Vancouver is switching right wings on its second and third lines, moving 19-year-old Jake Virtanen up to play with center Brandon Sutter and left wing Alexandre Burrows, and dropping right wing Jannik Hansen down to his old spot with left wing Sven Baertschi and 20-year-old center Bo Horvat. It may not seem like a big move for the Canucks, who have lost four straight (0-2-2), but it splits up the young line of Horvat, Virtanen and 23-year-old Baertschi, who have seen their ice time evaporate as Vancouver gave up third-period leads in the past two games.

Coach Willie Desjardins talked about mixing veterans with his young players, including 19-year-old center Jared McCann, who is centering the fourth line, in the hopes of getting back to the four-line approach that worked so well last year.

"That's why we were successful last year," Sedin said. "We had four lines rolling, and that's why you see the Canadiens where they are, they spread their ice time and everyone feels important. We're trying to go back to that."

The Canadiens, who have used a balanced attack to lead the NHL with 35 goals, likely will use the same skaters they have in each of the first nine games. Montreal also leads the NHL with 12 goals against, and goalie Carey Price leads the League with a .961 save percentage in seven games.

The Canadiens have trailed for 2:57 all season, making it easy for coach Michel Therrien to avoid the temptation to tinker with the lineup as they attempt to join the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres as the only teams to start a season with 10 straight wins.

"It's a big plus," Therrien said of not having to change his lineup. "But players got to make sure they perform well. You don't want to see players hiding behind the success of this hockey team."

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Alexander Semin

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Mike Condon

Injured: None

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Paul Byron


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata

Alexandre Burrows - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Brandon Prust - Jared McCann - Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Ben Hutton - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Miller

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Adam Cracknell, Matt Bartkowski

Injured: Chris Higgins (foot), Jacob Markstrom (hamstring)

Status report: The Canucks play back-to-back road games against the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes later this week, and coach Willie Desjardins said it's possible Miller may get a night off for the first time this season. Bachman, who was called up from the American Hockey League to back up Miller while Markstrom recovers from a hamstring injury, only played half of two games during the preseason and hasn't played a full game since May 20.

Who's hot: The Canadiens have eight players with active point streaks led by Plekanec, who has two goals and five assists in five games. … Price is 3-0-1 in his past four starts in Vancouver with a .950 save percentage.

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