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.
NOTES: 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 on 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.