Preview: Flames at Canucks
The Pacific Division title is there for the taking, with the top five teams separated by only five points at the two-thirds mark of the season. While the Vancouver Canucks are sitting atop that pack, they have dropped three in a row and hope to end that slide when they open a six-game homestand against the slumping Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Vancouver capped off a five-game road trip (2-2-1) with a 4-2 loss at Minnesota on Thursday, but it enters Saturday's matchup with a nine-game winning streak at home. “I thought we did some good things on this road trip that we can take back home with us but at the same time, we’ve got to figure out a way to get wins here," captain Bo Horvat said. "I mean, it’s so tight in our division and teams are winning and we’ve got to step up to the plate and keep winning hockey games.” The Flames also have lost three in a row -- all at home -- and are clinging to the second wild card in the Western Conference as they kick off a four-game road trip. "We need more desperation. In a sentence, that's it. We're not desperate enough," interim coach Geoff Ward said following Thursday's 3-2 loss to Nashville. "It's about compete and how hard you want to compete."
TIME: 10 p.m. ET. TV: CBC, Sportsnet, Sportsnet360, Sportsnet One, CITY
ABOUT THE FLAMES (27-22-6): Although Calgary received some good news upon learning that captain Mark Giordano will not require surgery for his hamstring injury, the reigning Norris Trophy winner's absence was glaringly obvious in Thursday's loss. Giordano missed his first game in five years and Travis Hamonic took his place alongside TJ Brodie on the top defensive pairing, but the duo was on the ice for all three of Nashville's goals. Elias Lindholm collected an assist Thursday to extend his point streak to five games.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (30-20-5): Center Elias Pettersson, who leads the team in goals (23) and points (55), was a late scratch from the lineup Thursday due to a lower-body injury -- the result of a check into the boards from Boston's Matt Grzelcyk on Tuesday. Listed as day-to-day, Pettersson has nine points in his last eight games overall and nine in seven meetings versus Calgary. Vancouver's sputtering power play was in a 4-for-44 rut over a 13-game span before J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel converted in Thursday's loss.
1. Canucks rookie D Quinn Hughes had three goals and three assists on the five-game road trip.
2. Flames F Matthew Tkachuk has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 16 games versus the Canucks.
3. Vancouver called up Guillaume Brisebois from Utica of the American Hockey League after fellow D Oscar Fantenberg (upper body) was hurt Thursday.
PREDICTION: Canucks 4, Flames 2