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The Canucks opened their four-game Eastern road trip with an inspiring 6-1 win over the Leafs Saturday.

The Twins racked up seven points and Roberto Luongo made 35 saves in his 25th win of the year.

The power play finished 5-for-10 and carried the Canucks to 51 points, one back of the division-leading Flames.

The cheers in Vancouver died to a murmur once trainers discovered Taylor Pyatt’s broken thumb.

The 6’4”, 220-pound winger suffered the injury after a first-period slash from Jeff O’Neill, but it didn’t hinder Pyatt enough to keep him from scoring his 11th goal of the year on a third-period breakaway to make it 4-1.

“I saw the specialist today and he said if I can put on a splint and get on my glove and grip my stick I’ll be able to play,” said Pyatt. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow morning.”

The coach originally though Pyatt would be lost for two to four weeks. Keeping Pyatt’s size and forecheck in the line-up’s crucial for the Canucks who take on the Montreal Candiens and their slick defence Tuesday in Montreal.

The Canucks beat the Habs 6-2 at GM Place in the teams’ only meeting last season.

While the Canucks have won eight of their last nine games and improved their road record to 10-11-1 with their win over the Leafs, the Habs have faltered losing six of their last 10 games.

The Ottawa Senators scored four times in the first period in a 8-3 win Satuday and eventually chased Canadiens starting goaltender Cristobal Huet.

"The first couple of shifts were pretty good, then what happened after that .." wondered Canadiens centre Saku Koivu. "There's no explanation or reason for that.

Huet lasted less than half of the game, giving up six goals on 25 shots before being replaced by David Aebischer. Aebischer made seven stops the rest of the way.

"It's hard enough for us to score goals right now," Sheldon Souray said. "To give up goals like that, we're not going to come back."

Montreal had a 12-point lead in the standings over Ottawa on Dec. 23rd, but are now clinging to a one point lead in the Northeast Division.

The Canadiens complete a three-game road trip Monday night against the Detroit Red Wings before flying home to face a streaking Canucks team at the Molson Centre.

Vancouver’s climbed out of the Northwest’s basement and is knocking at the penthouse door with a seven-game win streak to start the New Year. Special teams have been key.

After going 5-for-10 with the man advantage Saturday, the Canucks power-play jumped to 16.9 percent – good for 16th overall. The penalty continues to impress, killing all eight penalties in their last game and now stands at 87.7% overall and first in the league.

The special teams matchup will be something to watch for with the Hab’s second ranked power-play and fourth ranked penalty kill.

The biggest factor for the Canucks will be Luongo, whose 35-save performance helped Vancouver’s PK unit blank the Leafs eight times and move him into second spot in wins behind Martin Brodeur.

The Canucks got a scare in practice Sunday when Luongo took a puck in the throat.

“It’s a little sore and swollen right now but I should be alright to play,” said Luongo. “Those [shots in the throat] are the worst ones because you kind of lose your breath for a second and the swelling begins right away. It kind of feels like your throat’s closing up.”

The Canucks have four Quebec-born skaters in the line-up, including Luongo.

Alex Burrows, Marc Chouinard, and Dany Sabourin also hail from Quebec.

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INJURIES

Vancouver
  • Taylor Pyatt (broken thumb)
  • Tommi Santala (knee)
  • Rick Rypien (groin)
Canadiens
  • Radek Bonk
  • Steve Begin
 
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