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Canadiens blank Canucks 2-0

Carey Price stopped 33 shots for his second shutout of the season as the Montreal Canadiens blanked the visiting Vancouver Canucks 2-0 Thursday night. Price thrived in his return from an undisclosed lower-body injury that sidelined him for three games and bothered him for several weeks. He has now won nine of his past 12 games. Jordie Benn and Jonathan Drouin scored for the Canadiens in their first home game since December 17. The Canadiens (22-14-5) posted their fifth win in six games and 10th in the past 14. The Canucks (20-20-4) suffered only their fifth loss in 14 outings. The Canucks lost rookie center Elias Pettersson, the club's top scorer, to an apparent leg injury 5:48 into the second period.

Pettersson's right leg twisted awkwardly as he became entangled with Montreal rookie center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Canadiens forward appeared to apologize afterwards, as he went over to Pettersson, said a few words and gave him a stick-tap on his shin pads. "It was a collision," Canucks center Brandon Sutter told Sportsnet. "I don't think (Kotkaniemi) really knew what was going on." Vancouver netminder Jacob Markstrom recorded 25 saves on 27 shots in the 200th game of his NHL career. He played his second game in two nights. Benn opened the scoring at 11:50 of the first period as he snapped a shot from just inside the blue line over Markstrom.

The goal was Benn's second in three games and third of the season. The ninth-year veteran is one shy of his single-season high of four. Drouin put the Canadiens ahead 2-0 at 8:24 of the second period as he fired home a shot from left wing during a counter-attack. Price stopped Bo Horvat on two dangerous chances during the same shift late in the second period. The Canucks outshot the Habs 17-9 in the middle frame. Vancouver winger Brock Boeser hit the post with just under six and half minutes left in the third, when the Habs killed four Canuck power plays. The Canucks failed to score on five man-advantage opportunities while the Canadiens were blanked on three.

Sutter returned to action after being out since Oct. 29 with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Canucks defenseman Michael Del Zotto played his first game after sitting out 13 as a healthy scratch. Earlier Thursday, the Canucks placed backup goaltender Mike McKenna on waivers a day after acquiring him in a multi-player trade from Ottawa. McKenna, a 35-year-old journeyman with limited NHL experience, is expected to clear waivers and report to Utica of the AHL. The move coincides with general manager Jim Benning's previously stated plan to promote top goaltending prospect Thatcher Demko from Utica. Demko will join the Canucks for Saturday's game in Toronto.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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