Canucks-Canadiens Preview

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The Vancouver Canucks are trying to complete a season-high road trip with a winning record, which is something the Montreal Canadiens failed to accomplish over the first week of December. The Canadiens open a five-game homestand Tuesday night against the Canucks, and they'll likely do so with fresh combinations of lines to spark their struggling scoring. After a 16-5-1 start, Montreal has scored 13 goals on a 1-5-1 stretch, including Saturday's 4-1 loss in Dallas to cap a 1-3-0 trip. If Monday's practice was any indication, the Canadiens (17-10-2) will deploy center Alex Galchenyuk, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher on the top line. Pacioretty, who had spent the entire season with center David Desharnais, leads the team with 12 goals and is tied with Tomas Plekanec at 20 points. Pacioretty doesn't have a point in three games and is OK with the shuffling. "At times during the season, things just go stale," Pacioretty told the team's official website. "That's what's happening right now. We've got to try to change things up and find a spark. Hopefully with the new lines, everyone can contribute. "Moves like these give you that fresh feeling. You come to the rink and you feel like it's Day 1 of training camp. ... I think everyone in the room has a little bit of a spark right now, and hopefully it can translate into the game." Pacioretty has scored five goals in his last three games against Vancouver and has eight points on a five-game streak. One of those goals came in a 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver on Oct. 30. Montreal, though, has won six of eight matchups. The Canucks (18-8-2) are making their final stop on a seven-game trip that has thus far produced a 3-2-1 record. After Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss to Ottawa, they're in danger of dropping three straight for the first time. Settling for a point against the Senators certainly wasn't what the Canucks planned on after building a 3-0 lead on Brad Richardson's goal early in the second period. Richardson has emerged in the last six games with four goals and four assists after managing seven points in the first 22. Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist and Kevin Bieksa also scored, but the Canucks went on the penalty kill seven times and lost all momentum. "It's a lesson," Bieksa told the team's official website. "We were in control. We were doing all the right things, then penalties and the next thing you know, we weren't getting pucks deep, we're turning pucks over, our 'D' zone was a little bit sloppy, our forecheck was non-existent at times. "All the things that have made us successful, we stopped doing. You can't take the little things for granted." Eddie Lack made 41 saves and is 2-0-2 with a 1.77 goals-against average in his last six games, while Ryan Miller has struggled lately. The first-year Vancouver starter has a 4.60 GAA over a 1-2-0 span. In Montreal, though, he's posted a 1.50 GAA on a 4-1-0 stretch. Montreal's Carey Price played in all four games on the trip and posted a 3.05 GAA, but he's 5-1-0 with a 1.67 GAA in the last month at home. Price suffered the overtime loss earlier this season against Vancouver but is 5-1-2 with a 2.34 GAA in nine career matchups. The Canadiens will be without defenseman Mike Weaver, who suffered a concussion against Dallas. Center Lars Eller is dealing with an upper-body injury, and defenseman Bryan Allen has missed practice time with the flu. Canucks center Shawn Matthias missed the Ottawa game with a head injury and is day to day.