Canucks 4, Canadiens 0

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MONTREAL – Roberto Luongo made 30 saves to post his third shutout of the season and the Vancouver Canucks won their fifth consecutive road game, 4-0 over the slumping Montreal Canadiens.

Josh Green, Lukas Krajicek, Ryan Kesler and Jan Bulis scored for the surging Canucks, who have won nine of 10 to move past Calgary into first place in the Northwest Division.

Cristobal Huet made 20 saves for the Canadiens, who have lost nine of 13 and haven’t scored a goal in two straight. The lack of offense drew a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd throughout the third period.

The Canadiens have been outscored 14-3 during a three-game losing streak and have failed to score an even-strength goal in nine of 10 periods, dating to a win over Philadelphia on Jan. 11.

Conversely, the Canucks have scored 39 goals and allowed only 22 in their last 10 games, riding stellar special teams play. Vancouver has killed off 50 of 53 penalties and has scored on 13 of 54 power-play opportunities.

The victory made it a triumphant return to the Bell Centre for Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who coached the Canadiens from the start of the 1997 season until November 2000. He faced his former team for the first time.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau shuffled all his forward lines and finally lost patience with struggling winger Sergei Samsonov, scratching him from the lineup for the first time this season, but it was to no avail.

Samsonov has no goals in 16 games, and two in 36 games, both coming against Boston on Dec. 12.

The Canucks took a 1-0 lead at 6:36 of the first when Kevin Bieksa wheeled around the Canadiens net and fed Green for his second of the season.

Krajicek made it 2-0 on the power play at 8:58, taking a feed from Bulis and firing a wrist shot to the far top corner for his second.

Montreal came out with a bit more jump in the middle period, but Vancouver extended its lead when Kesler tipped Bieksa’s point shot past Huet at 13:51 of the second.

Bulis put the game out of reach 55 seconds into the third when he beat Huet with a long slap shot for his eighth of the season.

Notes: Canadiens D Craig Rivet was also a healthy scratch for the first time this season, breaking a streak of 153 consecutive games played. He was replaced by Janne Niinimaa. Rivet had two goals and two assists but was a minus-6 over his previous seven games. It was the third game Rivet has missed in five seasons. … Canucks D Willie Mitchell missed his second game with a groin injury, while winger Taylor Pyatt missed his first game with a thumb injury that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely. … Canadiens C Radek Bonk returned from a neck injury that forced him to sit out five games.

AP-ES-01-16-07 2231EST

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