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Flames aim to end slide when they visit Canucks @NHL

FLAMES (21-18-3) at CANUCKS (23-13-3)


VANCOUVER -- There are many questions surrounding the lineups of the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames on Saturday, but little doubt about which team has the recent advantage.

The Canucks have won nine straight games against the Flames, including two this season, part of a 10-3-2 record within the Pacific Division. Calgary is 10-3-1 against the Pacific Division, but is 0-1-1 against the Canucks.

The Flames early season success may have caught some opponents off guard, but the Canucks are not one of them.

"We realize what kind of game they play and the intensity they bring to the games," said Vancouver forward Chris Higgins, who returns after missing one game with the flu. "They have a lot of guys that are having pretty good years for them, especially on the back end, so we have been prepared for them and we will be again tonight."

The Canucks don't know which goalie to prepare for, however.

Calgary is coming off a 6-5 loss against the Florida Panthers on Friday, who beat the Canucks 3-1 on Thursday. Jonas Hiller gave up six goals on 35 shots and has played in 12 straight games, but backup Karri Ramo is out with an upper body injury, leaving Joni Ortio, who arrived Friday afternoon from Adirondack of the American Hockey League as the backup.

Calgary coach Bob Hartley wouldn't reveal his lineup, but Ortio was one of three players on the ice with goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet on Saturday morning.

Ortio is 17-8-1 with a .916 save percentage this season in the AHL, but the 23-year-old Finn went 4-4-0 in nine games with Calgary late last season, including a 2-1 loss in Vancouver on March 8.

"Both defenses were like saloon doors, back and forth," Hartley said of the game Friday.

A third straight loss could lead to lineup changes, with forward Brandon Bollig and defenseman Raphael Diaz available to return to the lineup after each was a healthy scratch on Friday, but Hartley wouldn't talk about changes.

Neither would Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, who hinted Friday defenseman Frank Corrado might get to play his first game of the season after being called up from Utica of the AHL on Wednesday.

Health could play a role after Higgins and Radim Vrbata were late scratches because of the flu in each of the past two games. Goalies Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack did not take part in an optional skate Saturday morning, which is normal for Miller when he's starting but rare for Lack.

"We'll talk to guys after the skate and see how everybody is feeling and where everybody is at," Desjardins said of his lineup.

Corrado has been called up from Utica three times this season, but hasn't played with the Canucks since scoring his first NHL goal against Calgary in the final game last season. Corrado, who has played in 18 NHL games over three seasons, admitted nerves are a factor.

"It's about channeling the nerves and using them the right way," he said. "My first game I was really nervous and I found a way to use that energy and it helped me out quite a bit. There's different ways once you get into the heat of the game to channel that energy."

Here are the projected lineups:


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Curtis Glencross - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Mason Raymond - Markus Granlund - Paul Byron

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Joni Ortio

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Raphael Diaz

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Josh Jooris (upper body), Karri Ramo (upper body)


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata

Shawn Matthias - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Derek Dorsett - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Ryan StantonKevin Bieksa

Luca Sbisa - Yannick Weber

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Linden Vey, Frank Corrado

Injured: Dan Hamhuis (lower body)

Status update: The Flames sent veteran right wing Brian McGrattan to Adirondack Saturday after he cleared waivers and expect him to report after clearing up immigration paper work early next week. McGrattan played eight games this season and was a healthy scratch for the past 14, and general manager Brad Treliving said the demotion wasn't the end for the tough forward with the Flames. "The primary piece of this is getting Brian playing again," Treliving said. "It was a difficult discussion because of the respect we have for Brian. This is an excellent man, a big part of the DNA of our group. This isn’t the end, this isn’t we’ll never see from him again."

Who's hot: Backlund has two goals and two assists in two games since returning from abdominal surgery that kept him out 29 games. "I'm trying to tell myself to hold onto the puck," Backlund said. "I've been watching a lot of hockey being out and I see the best guys in the league don't throw the puck around, they hold onto it and make plays." … Canucks center Henrik Sedin has two goals and nine points his past eight games, but both goals were into an empty net. He hasn't beaten a goalie in 16 games.

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