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Preview: Flames vs. Canucks

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

With four consecutive victories on their current trip, the Vancouver Canucks continue to inch closer to their third straight Northwest Division title.

Looking to match their longest road winning streak of the season, the Canucks close out their five-game trek Saturday night against a Calgary Flames team fighting for a playoff spot.

NHL-leading Vancouver (44-16-9) moved 16 points ahead of second-place Calgary in the division with a 5-4 shootout win over San Jose on Thursday night.

Since allowing five power-play goals on 16 opportunities over a 0-1-3 stretch that included a 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary on Jan. 22, the Canucks have won 15 of 21 while limiting teams to just six goals in 80 chances on the man advantage (7.5 percent).

Although the Sharks' lone power-play goal in seven chances tied Thursday's game in the final minute of regulation, Vancouver's Cory Schneider stopped a season-high-tying 44 shots through overtime and all three in the shootout as the Canucks improved to 4-0-0 on this trip.

"We seem to be winning all sorts of ways and that's a good sign," said Schneider. "They really just kept coming and coming in the third period. We sort of held the fort and (Alexandre) Burrows had the big goal in the shootout to get the win."

While the Canucks, who last won five straight on the road Dec. 23-Jan. 11, have all but clinched a postseason berth, Calgary (36-25-9) remains one of a handful of teams hoping to claim one of the last five playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The Flames had averaged 3.8 goals en route to winning eight of 11, but they failed to score for the first time in more than seven weeks during a 3-0 loss at Phoenix on Thursday night.

"We have to move past this one, and get ready for Vancouver," coach Brent Sutter said. "We did not have enough around the net to get second and third opportunities. Right now, every game is a challenge because so many teams are battling for playoff spots."

Calgary, seeking a season-best fourth consecutive home victory, could have difficulty scoring again versus Vancouver, as it's been held to 1.9 goals per game over a 2-6-0 stretch in the series.

Miikka Kiprusoff, who recorded a 4.75 goals-against average while starting in each of those eight games, is 8-1-1 with three shutouts and a 1.87 GAA in his last 11 starts overall.

Kiprusoff allowed a career-high-tying seven goals in a 7-2 loss the last time the Canucks visited Calgary on Dec. 1 and owns a 3.22 lifetime GAA against Vancouver - his highest versus any West opponent.

His counterpart has excelled in the series lately. Roberto Luongo has registered a 1.84 GAA during those last eight games in the series.

Luongo, though, is just 4-5-0 in his last nine contests overall and is 8-6-0 with a 3.01 GAA at Scotiabank Saddledome since joining the Canucks in 2006.

Daniel Sedin tallied a goal and an assist against the Sharks while Henrik Sedin notched two assists as both extended their individual point streaks to four games. The brothers have combined for four goals and 10 assists over that span.

Daniel Sedin, the NHL leader with 86 points, has totaled seven goals and eight assists during an 11-game scoring streak against Calgary.

In contrast, Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who leads the team with 30 goals and 66 points, has just one goal and four assists in his last 10 meetings with Vancouver.

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