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Preview: Flames at Canucks

Defenseman Matt Bartkowski to make Calgary debut against former team; Vancouver looks to rebound at home

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

FLAMES (29-26-3) at CANUCKS (25-27-6)

10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, NHL.TV

 

Flames team scope

Defenseman Matt Bartkowski will make his Calgary Flames debut Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, who let him leave as a free agent after last season. Bartkowski spent most of this season with Providence of the American Hockey League before signing a two-year, two-way contract with the Flames on Thursday. "Kind of ironic first game is back in 'Van,' " Bartkowski said Saturday. "You just can't let yourself get too tangled up and too high and just run on sheer emotion, because normally things go bad then." Bartkowski's debut isn't the only change for the Flames, who are 5-2-0 in their past seven games and hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. Forward Alex Chiasson, who has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 58 games, will be a healthy scratch after receiving a major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing Philadelphia Flyers forward Nick Cousins during a 3-1 win against the Flyers on Wednesday. "With everything that happened there we are talking about discipline within our systems," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Alex has been a fantastic addition to our club and we've got two other forwards champing at the bit to come in, and this has given them an opportunity." Forward Freddie Hamilton will replace Chiasson. Goaltender Brian Elliott, who made 33 saves against Philadelphia, will start against the Canucks, who are five points behind the Flames. "We definitely want to put those teams that are behind you even more behind," forward Michael Frolik said.

 

Canucks team scope

The Canucks will try to bounce back from a 2-4-0 road trip that ended with a 4-3 loss against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, and pull within three points of Calgary in the playoff race. "We're both fighting for a playoff spot," Canucks center Henrik Sedin said. "We've all seen the standings, we know where they are and how big this game is." Vancouver is 2-7-0 in its past nine games, but 7-2-1 in its past 10 home games. Goaltender Ryan Miller will start after Jacob Markstrom allowed four goals on 21 shots against the Blues. Forward Brendan Gaunce returns to the lineup in place of Reid Boucher. Gaunce had two goals and an assist in four games with Utica before he was called up to play in a 4-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. But Gaunce was scratched against the Blues on Thursday and hasn't scored in 48 NHL games this season. "He is a good skater and he can get in on the forecheck, he can track back and he is a big body too," coach Willie Desjardins said of Gaunce. "There are lots of parts of his game that can add to us." Forward Sven Baertschi, who has been out since Feb. 7 with a concussion, still hasn't been cleared to resume skating and is still a ways away from returning, Desjardins said.

 

Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Kris Versteeg

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Micheal Ferland -- Sam Bennett -- Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajan -- Freddie Hamilton

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Deryk Engelland

Matt Bartkowski -- Dennis Wideman

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Alex Chiasson, Garnet Hathaway, Jyrki Jokipakka

Injured: None

 

Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Markus Granlund

Alexandre Burrows -- Bo Horvat -- Jannik Hansen

Loui Eriksson -- Brandon Sutter -- Jayson Megna

Brendan Gaunce -- Michael Chaput -- Jack Skille

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Luca Sbisa -- Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton -- Nikita Tryamkin

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Philip Larsen, Alex Biega, Reid Boucher

Injured: Sven Baertschi (concussion), Anton Rodin (knee), Erik Gudbranson (wrist surgery), Derek Dorsett (neck surgery)

 

Status report

The Flames sent defenseman Brett Kulak to Stockton of the AHL to make room for Bartkowski, who played 80 games with the Canucks last season. … Sutter, who is playing through a wrist injury, was replaced on the top power play unit by Megna in the morning skate Saturday, with Burrows taking Megna's spot on the second unit.

 

Who's hot

Brodie scored the winning goal against the Flyers and has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past six games. Tkachuk has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games. … Horvat has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games.

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