The Vancouver Canucks will try to keep their longest winning streak of the season going with a fifth straight victory, as they host the Calgary Flames in Saturday's battle at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks have won four in a row and they've recorded at least a point in eight of their last nine games (6-1-2). The recent winning streak has helped boost Vancouver into first place in the Northwest, a division that's been won by the Canucks in each of the past four seasons.
Vancouver posted its most recent win on the road, defeating the Minnesota Wild by a 4-1 score on Thursday, but Saturday's test marks the start of a four-game homestand for the club. The Canucks are 3-1-1 as the host this year and their lone regulation setback at Rogers Arena came in a 7-3 season-opening loss to Anaheim on Jan. 19.
The Canucks used a good start and a sharp performance by goaltender Cory Schneider en route to the win over the Wild.
Schneider had not played since struggling in a 4-1 loss at San Jose on Jan. 27, with Roberto Luongo between the pipes for the Canucks' previous four outings and allowing just three goals in the team's last three triumphs. The only blemish in Schneider's return, however, came on a power-play tally from Tom Gilbert in the third period.
Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period while out-shooting the Wild, 9-3. The Canucks added two more goals in the second stanza to stake themselves a 4-0 lead heading into the third.
"The first period was one of the best first periods I've seen this team play, especially on the road," said Schneider. "To give up three shots and get two big goals, I think that really set the tone."
Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins, Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen all scored goals to back the 22-save effort from Schneider, with Raymond adding an assist.
The Flames also enter Saturday's contest on a high note, having won consecutive games for the first time this season. With its recent victories in Detroit and Columbus, Calgary also improved its road record to 2-0-1 and the club hopes to complete a perfect road trip with another win in Vancouver.
Calgary, however, hasn't had a great deal of success at Rogers Arena lately, losing two in a row, four of five and seven of its last nine in Vancouver. All told, the Canucks have claimed 11 of the last 14 encounters in this series.
The Flames are coming off Thursday's overtime victory in Columbus. Alex Tanguay netted the decisive goal 1:07 into the extra session to lift Calgary to the 4-3 decision over the Blue Jackets. Tanguay has compiled four goals and five assists during his current seven-game point streak.
Roman Cervenka, Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak also scored for the Flames, who trailed the Blue Jackets 2-1 after the first 20 minutes.
"We didn't get the first period that we wanted, but in the second and third periods we were on the puck and we made some great plays," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "It was another good night. I'm very proud of the boys."
Leland Irving got the start in place of an injured Miikka Kiprusoff and made 26 saves to earn the win. Kiprusoff was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury on Friday along with Flames centerman Mikael Backlund.