The Vancouver Canucks will aim for a fourth consecutive victory when they open a five-game road trip in Tuesday's battle against the Calgary Flames.
The Canucks recently posted a perfect record on a three-game homestand, giving the surging club nine wins in its last 11 games. As a result, Vancouver has taken a four-point lead over Minnesota for the Northwest Division lead with nine games left in the regular season for both teams. The Wild are off Wednesday after losing in regulation to Chicago last night.
Vancouver enters this swing having lost two straight in regulation on the road. The Canucks are 9-6-3 as the road club this season and will begin this trek with two games against the Western Conference's two worst team. After facing 14th-seeded Calgary in the opener, Vancouver will make its next stop against the basement-dwelling Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
The Canucks then will close the trip with games in Nashville, St. Louis and Dallas.
Ryan Kesler returned from a lengthy absence to score the game-winner in Vancouver's most recent victory, a 2-0 win over Phoenix on Monday. Kesler scored in the first period and Cory Schneider posted 19 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. Schneider is tied for the league lead in shutouts with Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.
Kesler had been out of action since Feb. 26 with a broken right foot, but he returned to play and scored his second goal of the season to help the Canucks win a third straight game.
"I think we want to go to the net and get rebounds as much as possible," said Kesler. "We just wanted to do that all game and we made it work once tonight, but it would have been nice to get a few more. Their guy did a great job."
Kesler, the 2010-11 Selke Trophy winner, has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in eight games during his injury-plagued season.
The Canucks did lose forward Chris Higgins to a lower body injury on Monday and he will be sidelined indefinitely. Defenseman Chris Tanev will also miss a second straight contest due to a leg injury.
Vancouver, which notched a 5-2 home win over the Flames on Saturday, is 3-1-0 against Calgary this season and has won nine of 13 overall in this series. However, Calgary has won the last three encounters at the Saddledome.
The Flames are back home Wednesday after halting a 13-game road losing streak (0-12-1) with Monday's 3-1 triumph at Colorado. Mike Cammalleri scored the game-winner late in the second period to help Calgary pick up its first win as the guest since defeating Dallas on Feb. 17.
Roman Cervenka and Alex Tanguay each scored once, while Joey MacDonald made 39 saves to record the win.
"It's been a long time," MacDonald said of his team's road woes. "We kept possession of the puck and did the small things we had to do."
Calgary is now home at the Saddledome for two straight and five of its next six games. The Flames, who are 11 points out of a playoff spot, are 10-7-2 as the host this season.
Flames forwards Jiri Hudler, Brian McGrattan and Matt Stajan are questionable for Wednesday with upper body injuries.