Canadiens-Canucks Preview

The Associated PressOctober 12, 2013

The Montreal Canadiens are going to be without Brian Gionta on Saturday night.

The Vancouver Canucks will be without their leader in ice time in Alex Edler.

The absences of these key players will take some of the luster off this marquee matchup as the Canadiens and Canucks meet in Vancouver.

Gionta joined Montreal (2-2-0) at the start of this four-game trip after a brief absence for personal reasons, but has again taken leave.

"We don't know when he's going to come back," coach Michel Therrien said. "He's an important part of our team. He's a good leader, but right now I don't know when he's going to come back."

The Canadiens, who fell 3-2 in Calgary on Wednesday and won 4-1 at Edmonton the next night, will play for the first time without their captain.

"Obviously he's our captain and our leader," said P.K. Subban, who has six points in a three-game run. "Obviously you can't replace Brian Gionta but we have to have guys that are in here who are willing to step up."

Vancouver (3-2-0), meanwhile, won't have Edler. The defenseman, who has logged over 124 minutes of ice time, was suspended three games for an illegal check to the head of San Jose forward Tomas Hertl in Thursday's 4-1 home defeat.

The Canucks could be happy to be playing someone other than the Sharks. Thursday's defeat matched a 4-1 loss in San Jose in the season opener Oct. 3 before Vancouver won three straight by outscoring foes 14-8.

The Sedin brothers failed to register a point for the first time Saturday after combining for 12 in the first four games.

Mike Santorelli scored Vancouver's lone goal. He's got all four in his last three games and he logged nearly 24 minutes of ice time Thursday for the highest total of his career.

"He's been playing well, he scored another goal tonight," coach John Tortorella said. "He's been forechecking well, he's been strong on the puck and he deserves the ice time."

Santorelli is a Vancouver native who may be inspired playing in his first season with his hometown club.

Montreal second-year winger Brendan Gallagher is eager to play at the Rogers Arena for the first time. Gallagher, who was born in Edmonton but grew up in Vancouver, had a goal and an assist against the Oilers on Thursday. He said he will have between 15-20 guests in attendance Saturday.

"When I first step on the ice, it'll be really cool," Gallagher said. "There are going to be a lot of people watching who helped me get where I am at this point and they sacrificed a lot. You want to play well and you want to show them how proud you are of what they've done for you."

Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller have combined for 13 points and will likely take aim at Roberto Luongo, a Montreal native who is 1-4-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average in his last five games against the Canadiens.

British Columbia native Carey Price of Montreal has posted consecutive wins in Vancouver since giving up all seven goals there in a 7-1 loss Oct. 7, 2009.

Vancouver has killed off all 18 penalties this season.