Flames host Canucks in key Pacific game (Dec 23, 2016)

BY AP • December 23, 2016

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames are enduring an up-and-down season.

After losing three of their past four games, the Flames (17-16-2) look to start a new upward swing in their final game before their three-day Christmas break.

Following a disappointing 4-1 loss in San Jose to the Sharks on Wednesday, the Flames host the Vancouver Canucks (14-17-3) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

"They're a team that we obviously know a lot about and the last game before Christmas, nobody wants to be complacent before we go on the break," Calgary right winger Troy Brouwer told Flames TV on Thursday. "We want have a good showing, get a good win and feel good about ourselves going into the Christmas break."

After being held pointless Wednesday, Brouwer looks to return to the form that saw him score once and set up another during a 4-2 road victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

"I feel like the race we're in right now and how tight everything is in the standings we don't have the luxury of taking a game for granted," Brouwer said.

While the Flames hang on to the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Canucks missed out on a chance to inch closer to their Pacific Division rivals thanks to a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at home on Thursday.

"They're a team that you know what they're going to be saying," Calgary captain Mark Giordano told reporters on Thursday. "They're going to be trying to close the gap. They've got some games in hand on us and they're going to try to get themselves right back into it, so we've got to keep teams that are behind us behind us for the rest of the way."

Prior to their loss to the Jets, the Canucks were 2-0-1 in their previous three games. A win over the Flames on Friday in Calgary will go a long ways toward helping them enjoy their four-day break before back-to-back home games Wednesday against the Los Angeles and Dec. 30 versus the Anaheim Ducks.

"It's a must win for us," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin told reporters after Thursday's loss. "We are trying our best to battle back to .500 and get something going. When we think we're close we're losing again. That's frustrating, especially tonight, where I thought we started off really well. We beat ourselves. That can't happen so (Friday) is a big one for us."

The Canucks led 1-0 after the first period against the Jets thanks to a goal by former Flame Marcus Granlund before the Jets stormed back with four straight goals to earn the victory.

"Too many turnovers, not enough smart plays and they made us pay," said Sedin, who suited up for his 1,200th NHL game. "We weren't good enough."

Fellow forward Alex Burrows said all the Canucks can do is put Thursday's loss behind them and turn their focus to taking on Calgary.

"They are playing well," said Burrows of the Flames. "We know them pretty good. They are well coached. We have to forget about this one, put it behind us, get a good night's sleep, and get ready for Friday."

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