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Canucks get Higgins, Richardson back vs. Canadiens

by James Murphy

MONTREAL -- Although forward Henrik Sedin will miss the Vancouver Canucks' final two games before the Olympic break, and defenseman Dan Hamhuis will be out of the lineup Thursday with an undisclosed injury, the team will get two players back for their game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Forwards Chris Higgins and Brad Richardson, neither of whom dressed in a 3-1 loss at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, will return. After the Canucks' morning skate Thursday, Higgins said he's happy to be back but looking forward more to helping his team snap a five-game losing streak.

"We're just looking for a win here and looking to gain some traction," Higgins said. "It's kind of spiraled for us here lately with injuries and what not so we have to find a way to win and hopefully put a couple of wins together. This is very important and we're focusing on [Thursday] but we'd like to get a couple because it's been difficult for us to put a string of wins together."

The Canucks (27-22-9, 63 points) enter play Thursday with a one-point lead in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. There has been plenty of clamoring that things need to change, including some in the media suggesting the core be broken up via a trade. But Higgins said he doesn't necessarily think that needs to happen. He sees the Canucks' leadership group, including forwards Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler, doing everything they can to help them snap out of this funk.

"They take a lot of pride in that," Higgins said. "The coach can only do so much, and they want to be our best players, and I know they're trying to lead by example and take us on their shoulders and be the guy."

The game is a quick return to Bell Centre for defenseman Raphael Diaz. After being traded to the Canucks by the Canadiens for forward Dale Weise on Monday, Diaz found himself back in the arena he called home for the past two-plus seasons.

"I was a bit confused this morning when I came here," Diaz said as a joke. "But I'm really excited to play. I got traded Monday and now three days later I'm playing against the Canadiens, and it will be really special to play against them."

Diaz said he was happy he gets the chance to grab some belongings from his Montreal home before he heads to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he will play for Switzerland.

"It is good because if we didn't come back I'm not sure I would've been able to grab some clothes and stuff," Diaz said. "So good to come here quick and get my stuff before the Olympics."

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Ryan Kesler - Alexandre Burrows

Chris Higgins - Brad Richardson - Jannik Hansen

David Booth - Jordan Schroeder - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Kellan Lain

Alexander Edler - Jason Garrison

Raphael Diaz - Ryan Stanton

Yann Sauve - Frank Corrado

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Yannick Weber

Injured: Henrik Sedin (ribs), Kevin Bieksa (foot), Christopher Tanev (hand), Mike Santorelli (shoulder), Andrew Alberts (concussion), Dan Hamhuis (undisclosed)


Daniel Briere - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Brandon Prust - Lars Eller - Rene Bourque

Michael Bournival - Ryan White - Dale Weise

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Douglas Murray - Nathan Beaulieu

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Francis Bouillon, George Parros

Injured: Travis Moen (lower body), Davis Drewiske (shoulder), Alex Galchenyuk (hand)

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