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After making a strong impression on his new team, defenseman Raphael Diaz will face his former club on Thursday as the reeling Vancouver Canucks visit the Montreal Canadiens. Diaz scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday, but Vancouver dropped a 3-1 decision to Boston to match a season high with its fifth consecutive setback. The injury-riddled Canucks have lost 14 of their last 18 (4-12-2) to plummet back to the pack in the congested Western Conference.
Diaz notched two assists as Montreal skated to a 4-1 triumph over Vancouver on Oct. 12. Carey Price made 39 saves in that victory and turned aside all 27 shots he faced in a 2-0 win over Calgary on Tuesday. The Canadiens improved to 1-1-1 on their four-game homestand but are just 3-5-1 in their last nine contests.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, RSN Pacific (Vancouver), RDS, TSN (Montreal)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (27-22-9): Captain Henrik Sedin netted the lone goal in Vancouver's previous meeting with Montreal, but he and twin brother Daniel aren't finding much success on the scoresheet of late. The former has been held without a point in six contests sandwiched around a six-game absence due to an upper-body injury. "Me and Danny have got to step up and score more goals," the captain said. "That's No. 1. That's the difference right now. We've got to be the difference makers, and we're not right now."
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (30-21-6): While the sample size is small, newcomer Dale Weise's first game with Montreal was considered a success by one of his linemates. "Weise played well (on Tuesday), he brings a lot of energy to the table,” fellow fourth-liner Ryan White said. “I've played against him in the past and he’s always been a guy who has some offensive skills in addition to playing a physical game." Weise registered three shots in 12 minutes of ice time.
1. Montreal native Roberto Luongo, who made 34 saves in the previous meeting, is expected to oppose his Canadian Olympic teammate in Price on Thursday.
2. The Canadiens have killed off 27 consecutive penalties, while the Canucks have converted just once in the same amount of power-play opportunities.
3. Montreal LW Rene Bourque's goal on Tuesday was just his second since early December.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Canucks 2