Flames host Canucks to complete home-and-home (Jan 07, 2017)

CALGARY, Alberta — Pre-season prognosticators weren’t expecting this kind of success for Western Canadian rivals Calgary and Vancouver.

At about the mid-season point of the NHL schedule, the Flames (21-18-2) and Canucks (20-18-3) somehow find themselves occupying the two wild card spots in the Western Conference.

At least for a day, anyway.

With their 4-2 win over the Flames in Vancouver on Friday night, the Canucks jumped a point past the Los Angeles Kings into eighth spot; a point behind seventh-place Calgary.

The Flames and Canucks wrap up their back-to-back series Saturday in Calgary.

Vancouver takes a six-game winning streak into the contest thanks mostly to the efforts of goalie Ryan Miller, who made 44 stops as they Canucks were badly outshot on their home ice. They mustered only 13 shots on Flames goalie Brian Elliott.

“I’m sure they’ll be (mad) so they’ll come out hard,” said Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa. “We have to make sure we match their intensity and compete level, especially the first five, 10 minutes and go from there .”

Can Canucks get away with only 13 shots again?

“No, you got to be honest here. When you are on a winning streak sometimes you get by with a win like that,” Sbisa said. Miller may be at his best since he arrived in Vancouver as a free agent three season ago. He has a .955 save percentage during his five-game winning streak.

“I’m happy with the stretch right now but I feel like there’s lot to build on. We’d like to get these guys as much confidence as possible and start building something here,” he said.

Elliott said the Flames need to win at home Saturday.

“They are big points, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. On a back-to-back night we have to win at home. They did their job at home.

Now we have to do ours,” he said.

Flames captain Mark Giordano wants to see a bit of an adjustment to their style of play Saturday..

“We have to play more of a north-south game,” he said. “I thought that’s where we got into trouble tonight, we turned a few over when we held the puck too long or we were trying to make the east-west passes. Just play a lot of the same structure, bring some more intensity. A lot more desperation (Saturday) because we can’t let these guys catch us.”

Vancouver has it’s longest winning streak since December 2013 and have moved into the top 8 in the conference for the first time since

November. They could be back in ninth by the time they hit the ice Saturday, however, since the Kings host the Minnesota Wild in the afternoon.

Former Flames Markus Grandlund scored twice and added an assist on Friday. Michael Chaput and Loui Eriksson also scored for Vancouver.

Michael Frolik had both Calgary goals.

Vancouver is 5-12-1 on the road this season and have haven’t lost since suffering a 4-1 defeat in Calgary on Dec. 23. Calgary is 10-10-1 on their own ice.

The Canucks lost defenseman Chris Tanev to an upper body injury after he was hit by a Dougie Hamilton shot on Friday. Head coach Willie

Desjardins said Tanev will be re-evaluated Saturday morning but would not travel with team to Calgary late Friday.

“But that won’t rule him out,” Desjardins said.