Canucks-Flames Preview

Not many teams will complain about non-regulation victories, but

even the NHL’s hottest squad seemingly needs to find something to

improve.

The Vancouver Canucks seek their seventh victory in eight games

and their sixth consecutive road win over the Calgary Flames on

Saturday night.

Before beating Minnesota 5-2 on Thursday, Vancouver’s four

previous victories each came in overtime or a shootout. The Canucks

had last won in regulation Jan. 21, when they defeated San Jose

4-3.

“It was great to get a regulation game and take some stress off

a few people,” said Cory Schneider, who made 22 saves. “Definitely

the way we want to play.”

Many teams would love the so-called stress of a 6-0-1 stretch,

though Northwest Division-leading Vancouver (34-15-5) has higher

standards for itself.

Henrik Sedin scored Thursday despite a sore foot, and his

brother, Daniel, notched a goal and an assist.

“After the Boston game (a 4-3 win Jan. 7) we had a lot of ups

and downs, mostly downs, but I thought tonight was a step in the

right direction,” Henrik Sedin told the team’s official website.

“It was our best game by far.”

The “downs” have been few, given the Canucks are 8-2-2 since

that contest. They trailed Minnesota by six points for the division

lead Dec. 11, though they’ve made a thorough turnaround to build a

comfortable lead in the Northwest over the Wild, Calgary and

Colorado.

The Flames (25-22-8) finished a 1-0-2 road trip Thursday with a

2-1 overtime loss to Phoenix, although they salvaged a point after

Olli Jokinen’s third-period goal. They allowed a power-play goal

with less than two minutes left in OT.

“There was a point here to be had, and we gave it away,” coach

Brent Sutter said. “We knew this game would be tough, and I’m proud

the way the guys battled back to tie it.”

Calgary fell two points back of the Coyotes for the eighth spot

in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.

“We just have to keep pushing,” Sutter said. “It’s all right

there for whoever wants it.”

Leland Irving made 33 saves in his first start since Jan. 5. His

only victory of the season came in a 3-1 win at Vancouver on Dec.

23 in the most recent meeting.

The Canucks had gone 10-0-2 in the previous 12 matchups, winning

5-1 on both Nov. 1 and Dec. 4.

The Flames have dropped five straight at home to Vancouver while

being outscored 24-9. Their last home victory in the series was a

5-3 win Oct. 16, 2009, with the help of Miikka Kiprusoff’s 26

saves.

Kiprusoff – 4-2-2 with a 1.71 goals-against average in his last

eight starts – likely will be back in net Saturday. He’s struggled

against the Canucks, though, going 2-8-0 with a 4.90 GAA in his

last 10 starts against them, including 0-4-0 with a 6.73 GAA at

home in that stretch.

Henrik Sedin played in his 553rd consecutive game Thursday,

which is the second-longest active streak in the league to Flames

defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s 559 straight.