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Undefeated Canadiens can make history on trip

by John Kreiser

The Montreal Canadiens are heading west with a chance to make history.

The Canadiens play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Center on Tuesday seeking their 10th consecutive victory from the start of the season. That would match the record set by the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and equaled by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.

If the Canadiens defeat the Canucks, they can break the record with a victory at the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

The Canadiens have already set one record by winning their first nine games in regulation. Their 5-3 victory against the Maple Leafs on Saturday broke a tie with the 1975-76 Buffalo Sabres, the only previous team in NHL history to start its season with eight consecutive regulation wins.

"Our goal is not to break any records, our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, so I think we're going to save the feather for another day, or the champagne, or whatever it is that everybody expects us to do," defenseman P.K. Subban said after win No. 9. "Our focus is to try and make the playoffs and then move forward from there. I know as a team we're not satisfied with where we're at right now.

"Personally, all I think we've accomplished is a good start, that's really all it is. There's a lot of hockey left to be played, so everybody's going to be talking about a lot of things over the next couple of days, and that's fine, but for our team it's just about the next game and getting prepared to play our best game."

Montreal's domination of its opponents has been thorough:

-- The Canadiens have allowed 12 goals in their nine victories.

-- They have outscored opponents 8-0 in the first period and 14-2 in the third.

-- The same 18 skaters and two goalies have dressed for all nine games. Fourteen of the 18 skaters have at least one goal.

-- They have trailed in a game for exactly 2:57; they allowed the first goal in a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 17.

-- They have scored at least three goals in every game and had 12 in weekend victories against the Buffalo Sabres (7-2) and Maple Leafs (5-3).

-- Eight of the nine victories have been by multiple goals. A 3-2 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 13 was the only game decided by one goal.

-- Goaltender Carey Price is 7-0-0 with two shutouts. He has a 1.29 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage.

"A lot of things have gone right," Price said. "We've gotten the right bounce at the right time, guys have been working as a unit, and we're just playing pretty solid hockey right now."

Here's a game-by-game look at the Canadiens' perfect start:

Oct. 7: Canadiens 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs 1: Max Pacioretty scored 3:09 into the game for the first goal of the season and capped the opening-night victory with an empty-netter. Alex Galchenyuk broke a 1-1 tie with 7:58 remaining in the third period and Price stopped 36 shots to help the Canadiens spoil Mike Babcock's debut as Maple Leafs coach.

Oct. 10: Canadiens 4 at Boston Bruins 2: The line of Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and newcomer Alexander Semin did most of the damage at TD Garden against the Canadiens' rival. Eller scored twice, Galchenyuk had three assists and Semin set up two goals. It was Montreal's sixth consecutive victory against the Bruins and their seventh in a row at Boston.

Oct. 11: Canadiens 3 at Ottawa Senators 1: Rookie Mike Condon who won the battle to serve as Price's backup, made 20 saves to win his NHL debut and spoil the Senators' home opener. Center Tomas Plekanec had two goals and Torrey Mitchell also scored for the Canadiens.

Oct. 13: Canadiens 3 at Pittsburgh Penguins 2: Montreal achieved something it hadn't done in 38 years when Tomas Fleischmann's third-period goal put the Canadiens ahead to stay. The 4-0-0 start was the fourth in franchise history and the first since 1977-78. Price made 31 saves, including a big one on a snap shot by Sidney Crosby with 2:17 remaining.

Oct. 15: Canadiens 3 vs. New York Rangers 0: Price won a goaltending duel with New York's Henrik Lundqvist in Montreal's 98th home opener to give the Canadiens their first 5-0-0 start in franchise history. It was the 35th shutout of Price's career and his seventh in 18 regular-season games against the Rangers. Price made Fleischmann's second-period goal stand up until Dale Weise scored with 2:05 remaining in the third period and Plekanec hit the empty net.

Oct. 17: Canadiens 4 vs. Detroit Red Wings 1: The Red Wings became the first team to take a lead on the Canadiens when rookie Dylan Larkin scored 4:47 into the second period. But Brendan Gallagher tied the game at 7:44 with a power-play goal, and Jeff Petry put Montreal ahead at 6:32 of the third period with another man-advantage goal. Plekanec and Brian Flynn, into an empty net, scored late in the third period to put the game away.

Oct. 20: Canadiens 3 vs. St. Louis Blues 0: Price was tested early and often but made 38 saves for his second shutout in three games. Pacioretty, Semin and Mitchell each scored, helping the Canadiens to the best seven-game start in franchise history; they started 6-0-1 in 1961-62 and 1977-78.

Oct. 23: Canadiens 7 at Buffalo Sabres 2: Defenseman Andrei Markov had the biggest offensive night of his career, scoring once and setting up four other goals to help the Canadiens blow open a game that was tied 2-2 midway through the second period. Gallagher and Weise each scored twice and Condon made 34 saves in his second NHL start. The Canadiens matched the '75-76 Sabres' mark of eight consecutive regulation wins to start the season.

Oct. 24: Canadiens 5 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 3: Price faced a season-high 52 shots but stopped 49 of them to give the Canadiens their eighth win in a row against the Maple Leafs. P.K. Subban's first-period power-play goal put the Canadiens ahead to stay, and Montreal scored four times in a wild second period that saw Toronto finish with a 23-11 advantage in shots on goal. Pacioretty's shorthanded goal late in the second period was the Canadiens' first of the season and wound up as the game-winner. correspondent Sean Farrell contributed to this report.

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