Pacioretty was awarded two penalty shots in a two-minute span in the second period, becoming the second player in NHL history to be awarded two in the same period.
To get the first penalty shot, Pacioretty was hooked on a breakaway by recently acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz at 11:47. After the referee pointed to center ice, the Canadiens' leading goal-scorer shot high and wide.
"I thought a little bit too much before the shot," said Pacioretty, who had already scored Montreal's first goal earlier in the game. "That didn't help me."
Less than two minutes later, Alexandre Burrows took Pacioretty down on another breakaway, and the decision on the ice was the same.
"I couldn't believe it," Pacioretty said. "I was just trying to catch my breath, wipe down my visor, buy myself a little extra time. That's the last thing I would expect to happen so quickly after my first one."
This time, Pacioretty lost control of the puck, bobbled it and then took a weak backhand shot on Roberto Luongo, who made the pad save.
Pacioretty has taken three penalty shots in his career. The other was Oct. 12, 2013, in Vancouver. Luongo, who made 25 saves Thursday, stopped him that time, too.
"He's a big goalie, he's a good goalie," Pacioretty said. "When it comes to penalty shots, he's in my head."
Despite missing both, Montreal's leading scorer became the first Canadiens player to take two penalty shots in the same game.
Pacioretty redeemed himself at the start of the third, beating Luongo glove-side for his second of the game, the game winner and his team-leading 25th goal of the season. He also added an empty-netter for his second hat trick of the season.
"He stuck with it," teammate P.K. Subban said. "It says a lot about his character. It's tough, especially for a guy like him who wants to score so badly. He scored two goals afterward. It shows how mentally tough he is and determined he is. Kudos to him."
The Canucks are still winless (0-3) since coach John Tortorella's return from a 15-day suspension. They have lost six consecutive games for the first time in five years.
"Our first period was OK," Tortorella said. "We played really well in the second. We just couldn't carry it. We needed momentum early in the third period, and maybe score a goal to keep us going."
Stuck on 63 points, Vancouver is holding on to the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. But Tortorella doesn't think his players have the wrong attitude.
"That's the only thing we can do as a club, right now, is stay positive," he said. "Why lose that battle? The bench was alive; they played hard. That won't be a problem. We need to continue working at this."
Pacioretty put Montreal on the scoreboard at 14:59 of the first period, deflecting home Subban's shot from the blue-line with his knee. Subban's first shot on the play was blocked by Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison, but his second found its way through traffic.
The Canadiens doubled their lead a minute later when White scored his first of the season.
White couldn't have asked for an easier first goal, taking advantage of a sprawled Luongo, who thought he was covering the puck, to fire a backhand shot into the roof of the net and give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead. Dale Weise, in only his second game with Montreal, got an assist on the goal.
Higgins pulled one back for the Canucks at 2:31 of the second period, beating Price on the power play with a redirected shot off his shin for his 16th goal.
Montreal had killed off 28 straight penalties prior to Higgins' power-play goal.
The Canadiens added a fourth when defenseman Edler kicked the puck into his own net at 8:14. Plekanec, the last Montreal player to touch the puck, was credited with the goal.
Henrik Sedin (rib) and Dan Hamhuis (leg) were not in the lineup for the Canucks. The injury even forced Sedin to withdraw from the Sochi Olympics earlier in the day. ... Weise and Raphael Diaz both faced their former teams after they were traded Monday. ... Travis Moen (lower body) did not dress for the Canadiens and is listed as day to day. ... This was the second of two games between Montreal and Vancouver this season. The Canadiens beat the Canucks 4-1 on Oct. 12, 2013.
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MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 6: P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his first period goal with...