Sports

Flames, Canucks battle for playoff positioning

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Calgary Flames will try to rebound from a poor showing last time out as they begin a four-game homestand on Saturday night versus the rival Vancouver Canucks.

The Flames had won four of five before getting outworked by the Los Angeles Kings in a 5-3 loss on Thursday. The Kings outshot the Flames 45-18 as netminder Jonas Hiller got little help.

Hiller, starting on his 33rd birthday, yielded all five goals on 40 shots before getting pulled in the third period. Karri Ramo stopped all five shots he faced in relief.

"They were the better team, plain and simple," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "They came out on a mission. They gave us a tough night. There's no detour about it. They bottled us in our zone and we couldn't find a way to get out."

Mason Raymond scored twice and David Jones once for the Flames, who fell two points behind the Canucks for third place in the Pacific Division after Vancouver defeated the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

Calgary has played one more game than Vancouver and has a two-point edge over Minnesota for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Hiller may still get another start tonight and is 11-6-4 with a 2.96 goals against average and .905 save percentage lifetime versus the Canucks in 22 games (19 starts).

The netminder was given the night off when the Flames last played the Canucks, with Joni Ortio making 36 saves in a 1-0 victory at Vancouver on Jan. 10 that snapped Calgary's nine-game series losing streak.

Eddie Lack made 22 saves in the losing effort for the Canucks, who have still won four in a row and nine of their past 12 in Calgary.

Vancouver saw Shawn Matthias record his first career hat trick in last night's 5-2 win over the Bruins. The 26-year-old came into the game with 10 goals in 51 contests on the season.

"It's surreal," Matthias said of his hat trick. "I'm just happy to contribute and be a part of this team."

Radim Vrbata extended his career-high point streak to eight games with a goal, Zack Kassian assisted on two of Matthias' markers and Jannik Hansen provided an empty-net tally for the Canucks, who have won two straight for the first time since a three-game run from Jan. 15-19.

Vrbata has three goals and six assists over his point streak.

Ryan Miller made 21 saves in his 600th NHL game as Vancouver sits a point behind the idle San Jose Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division.