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Vancouver Canucks at Canadiens: Five things you should know

Vancouver Canucks at Canadiens: Five things you should know
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Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia and Detroit Red Wings centre Luke Glendening during action in Montreal on Oct. 15, 2018. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens -Canucks game at the Bell Centre on Thursday (7:30 p.m., TN2, RDS, TSN-690 Radio).

Price poised for return: The best news coming out of the Canadiens’ practice Wednesday was the appearance of goaltender Carey Price , who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury. Price, who had an 8-3 record in December, said he expects to play, but the final decision on his availability won’t be made until after the morning skate. There’s also the possibility the Finnish line of Artturi Lehkonen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia will be reunited. Armia has been cleared for action after missing 25 games with a knee injury and he’ll be assessed in the morning.

Shaw is out: While Price and Armia figure to be back in the lineup, feisty forward Andrew Shaw missed practice Wednesday. He suffered an upper-body injury in the first period against Dallas. The Canadiens didn’t offer any further information on the nature of the injury, but Shaw has a history of concussions. Shaw, who was limited to 51 games last season because of concussions and a knee injury that required surgery during the off-season, was on his way to a career season with 11 goals and 24 points. He had 11 of those points in December.

The matchup: The Canadiens are home after going 4-2 on their annual holiday season road trip. They finished Monday with a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win in Dallas. December was a very good month for the Canadiens, who won 10 of 15 games and six of their nine road games. This is the start of a three-game homestand, which continues Saturday when P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators are at the Bell Centre. Vancouver, which is coming off a 4-0 loss in New Jersey on Monday, is 6-3 in its last 10 games and is two points out of a wild-card spot in the West.

MONTREAL, QUE.: DECEMBER 17, 2018 — Montreal Canadiens Phillip Danault carries the puck past centre ice during first period of National Hockey League game against the Boston Bruins in Montreal Monday December 17, 2018. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 61873 – 3556 John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette

Confident Danault finds the net: Phillip Danault says confidence is the biggest reason for his increased goal production on the Canadiens’ recent road trip. Danault had his first NHL hat-trick to spur the Canadiens’ 4-3 overtime win in Las Vegas on Dec. 23 and, on Monday, he scored twice in Dallas to send that game into overtime. Danault said his recent success has encouraged him to shoot more. But scoring is only part of his game. He has won 51.8 per cent of his faceoffs against the opposition’s top lines and has a team-best plus-11 rating.

The other guys: Elias Pettersson, a 19-year-old Swede who is the favourite to win rookie-of-the-year honours, leads the Canucks with 19 goals and 39 points. Bo Horvat has 17 and goals and 35 points, while Brock Boeser — who was on the NHL rookie all-star team last season — has 14 goals and 12 assists despite missing 13 games this season with a groin injury. The Canucks resemble the Canadiens because they are a young team that’s retooling after the retirement of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Vancouver has 12 regulars 25 or younger.

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