Canucks-Canadiens Preview

The Associated Press

Despite a rare goal by the player they acquired from the Montreal Canadiens this week, the Vancouver Canucks continue to slide.

They can avoid losing six straight for the first time in five years by ending their struggles against the Canadiens on Thursday night.

Defenseman Raphael Diaz scored his first goal of the season and fifth of his three-year career Tuesday, one day after Vancouver (27-22-9) got him from Montreal (30-21-6) for forward Dale Weise. However, the Canucks suffered their fifth consecutive regulation defeat, 3-1 at Boston.

Diaz's goal is the only one for Vancouver, a loser in 14 of 18, in two games since coach John Tortorella returned Monday from a 15-day suspension. The Canucks, who also lost five straight in November, are looking to avoid their worst losing streak since an eight-game slide Jan. 9-31, 2009.

"This is a team thing here that we're going through and we'll go through it together," Tortorella said.

Henrik Sedin has been held off the scoresheet in two games since missing six with an upper-body injury. He's gone his last six without a point and brother Daniel is without one in seven straight, though they're tied for team lead with 40. They've each gone 17 games without a goal, and that's the longest such drought for Daniel Sedin - a four-time 30-goal scorer - since a 25-gamer in 2001-02.

"Me and Danny have got to step up and score goals," Henrik Sedin 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."

The Canucks are in a 1-for-27 slump on the power play and have converted 9.5 percent (7 for 74) in the last 23 games. Things won't get any easier against a Canadiens team that's killed off 27 straight penalties.

Daniel assisted on Henrik's goal in a 4-1 home loss to the Canadiens on Oct. 12, but the Sedins have been held to a combined one goal and five assists in eight career games at Montreal.

The Canucks won their most recent visit, 4-3 in a shootout Dec. 8, 2011, but that's their only victory in the past six meetings.

Montreal native Roberto Luongo was in net for all of them, posting a 3.17 goals-against average, and he's struggled in his last four starts with a 3.52 GAA.

Luongo's Olympic teammate, Canadiens netminder Carey Price, has been much better lately with a .970 save percentage and two shutouts in his last four games. He made 39 saves at Vancouver in October and is 4-0-1 with a 1.38 GAA in his past five starts against the Canucks.

Price stopped 27 shots Tuesday in a 2-0 win over Calgary, helping Montreal avoid a third straight loss to open its four-game homestand. Though the Canadiens snapped an eight-game home power-play drought with an empty-netter, they've totaled four goals in three games this month and two or fewer in 10 of 14.

Montreal is tied for the fourth-most points in the Eastern Conference but just five clear of being out of the playoff picture.

"It's a pretty critical part of the year for us, we're obviously battling for that (playoff) spot," Price told the NHL's official website. "Every game from here on out is important."

Montreal points leader and fellow Canadian Olympian P.K. Subban snapped a nine-game drought at home with an assist Tuesday.

Weise, who had 10 goals and 16 assists in 158 regular-season and playoff games with Vancouver, recorded three shots in 12 minutes of ice time in his Montreal debut.

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