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Preview: Flames vs. Canucks

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

CANUCKS (34-15-5) at FLAMES (25-22-8)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-1-2; Calgary 4-3-3

Season Series: Fourth of six meetings between these Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks claimed a pair of 5-1 wins before the Flames responded with a 3-1 victory in Vancouver the last time they matched up on Dec. 23. Roberto Luongo has posted a 1.34 goals-against average and .951 save percentage against Calgary this season.

Big Story: Coming down the stretch, both teams find themselves in similar positions to a season ago. The Canucks are first in the Northwest, battling to defend the Presidents' Trophy, while the Flames are on the playoff bubble in the Western Conference, two points out of eighth.

Team Scope:

Canucks: This is the finale of a four-game road trip for Vancouver, which is going for the sweep. Good fortune seems to be smiling on the Canucks of late, as the concern after Tuesday's shootout win over the Predators was that Henrik Sedin might be sidelined with a foot injury. He missed practice the following day and was seen in a walking boot. Not only did Sedin take the ice against the Wild on Thursday, his 553rd consecutive game, he scored a goal in the Canucks' 5-2 win. Daniel Sedin assisted on it after earlier scoring a power-play goal of his own.

"After warm-ups, I wasn't that good," Henrik said. "But once the game starts you get the adrenaline going a little bit. It was good."

Flames: Depending on whether you view the glass as half empty or half full, there are varying ways to look at Calgary's game in Phoenix on Thursday. The negative is that the Flames lost 2-1 in overtime, giving up a point to one of its chief competitors for the final West playoff spot. On the other hand, Olli Jokinen's goal 4:01 into the third period kept them from coming away totally empty and meant they secured at least a point (1-0-2) on all three games of their road trip. Six of the Flames' final eight games to close February will be at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"We knew this game would be tough, and I'm proud the way the guys battled back to tie it," coach Brent Sutter said. "We just have to keep pushing. It's all right there for whoever wants it."

Who's Hot: Ryan Kesler extended his goal-scoring streak to five games in the Canucks' win over the Wild, while Henrik Sedin now has 1 goal and 5 assists during a five-game points streak. … Jokinen is on a tear for the Flames, recording 5 goals and 3 assists during a five-game points streak.

Injury Report: Vancouver forward Dale Weise (foot) is day-to-day. Forwards Andrew Ebbett (collarbone) and Chris Higgins (illness) are on injured reserve. … Calgary defenseman Derek Smith (ankle) and forwards David Moss (ankle), Curtis Glencross (MCL) and Lee Stempniak (ankle) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: While Daniel Sedin has double the goals of Henrik this season (24 to 12), he only leads his twin in power-play goals by two (7 to 5), while each has recorded 5 game-winning goals. … Jokinen has scored 13 of his 17 goals this season on the road.

Puck Drop: Recently recalled Vancouver forward Byron Bitz, who drew the primary assist on Henrik Sedin's goal against Minnesota, raved about his new linemate afterward.

"People talk about toughness, and toughness is a lot more than dropping the gloves," Bitz said. "Playing through injuries and things like that, that's toughness."

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