With each game, Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks are showing why they're expected to be a force in the playoffs.
Coming off his best month of the season, Luongo looks to help the Canucks continue their recent dominance over the Calgary Flames as they start a two-game Alberta road trip on Saturday.
After losing the first two games of the season series, Vancouver (29-19-4) has won four straight over Calgary (28-17-6). The Canucks and Flames, though, are tied for the Northwest lead with 62 points each - the fewest of the six division leaders.
"It's tough to get any gap because a lot of teams are playing well in our division," Vancouver captain Markus Naslund said Friday.
The Flames have won 19 of their last 21 at Pengrowth Saddledome, but both losses have come to the Canucks. Still, Calgary owns the league's best home record at 21-5-0.
Luongo had a 4.80 goals-against average in the losses to the Flames, and was pulled after allowing four goals in less than 30 minutes of Vancouver's 5-3 road defeat on Dec. 9. In the four victories, Luongo has a 2.23 GAA.
Luongo has given up a total of three goals in his two wins at Calgary, and needs one win to reach 30 for the second straight season.
"Guys are going to have the confidence we can win there," he said. "We are going to have to work hard and play the same type of games we've played there to be successful. It's going to be a tough game, but we know we can pull it off."
Luongo started the new year by making 27 saves in 3-2 win at Calgary on Jan. 2. The Montreal native finished the month with an 8-1-2 record, a 1.86 GAA and recorded a 30-save shutout against the Canadiens on Jan. 16.
On Thursday, he was named one of the NHL's Three Stars of the month. Hours later, Luongo gave up two goals in a 2:05 span late in the third period, but the Canucks hung on for a 5-3 win over Edmonton.
"You can't emphasize enough how important these games are," said Naslund, who had a goal and assist to continue his recent resurgence after one of the worst stretches of poor play in his career. He has four goals in his last 10 games after going 17 games without one. Naslund, though, has one goal in his last 11 games against the Flames.
The Canucks will play at Edmonton on Tuesday.
On Friday, Jarome Iginla was welcomed back into the lineup after missing 11 games with a knee injury as Calgary defeated Columbus 6-2. Iginla - who had a goal and two assists in Friday's win - tallied two goals and three assists in the two wins over the Canucks.
Vancouver, though, limited the three-time All-Star to just one assist in the Flames' four losses.
It also was the first game back together for Iginla and center Craig Conroy, who was reacquired earlier in the week from Los Angeles. In 2004, the duo helped spearhead the Flames run to the Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to Tampa Bay in seven games. Conroy has two goals and an assist in his first two games with Calgary.
Calgary also got a goal and two assists from defenseman Robyn Regehr, who had just the second three-point game of his seven-year career.
"Hey, I don't score many but they're pretty," said Regehr, who blasted a point shot into an empty net after Columbus defenseman Adam Foote collided with goaltender Ty Conklin to take him out of the play.