Canucks hope to extend home win streak over Leafs

( - The Vancouver Canucks look to avoid losing ground in the Pacific Division on Saturday night with a seventh straight home victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs as the clubs clash at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks began a five-game homestand with Monday's win over the division- leading Anaheim Ducks, but were denied a third straight triumph on Thursday as they were shut out 4-0 by the Los Angeles Kings.

That setback, coupled with some other recent results, has Vancouver now sitting third in the Pacific Division, one point back of the surging Calgary Flames but with a game in hand. The Canucks are just one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings as well.

The Flames are idle tonight, while the Kings host the Nashville Predators.

Vancouver failed to get any of its 19 shots past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick on Thursday, while Eddie Lack made 16 saves in defeat.

"Quick showed why he's the best goalie in the league," Canucks forward Henrik Sedin.

Ryan Miller missed an eighth straight game with a sprained knee and will remain sidelined for some time. That leaves Lack as the likely starter tonight and it will mark his first versus the Maple Leafs.

Lack did face Toronto for the first time in his career on Dec. 6, relieving Miller after nearly 26 minutes of action in a 5-2 road loss. Lack stopped all 13 shots he faced in relief.

That loss was the Canucks' second in a row to the Leafs after they had won the previous 11 encounters, but Vancouver has still won the last six meetings at home. Toronto has not won on the road in this series since Nov. 22, 2003.

Jake Gardiner and Richard Panik scored 45 seconds apart in the first period to pace the December victory over the Canucks, while Jonathan Bernier made 44 saves.

Vancouver is expected to get a host of healthy bodies back into the lineup tonight as well, with forwards Chris Higgins and Brad Richardson slated to return to action along with defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Higgins has missed the previous three games due to a lower-body injury, while Bieksa is returning from a 21-game absence caused by hand surgery. A lower- body injury has kept Richardson out since Jan. 16.

The Leafs failed to help the Canucks' situation in the standings last night by losing a 6-3 decision to the Flames. David Booth scored twice in defeat, while Panik also scored.

James Reimer give up six goals -- four in the first period -- on 28 shots in the club's fourth defeat in five outings. Toronto also fell to 8-22-5 on the road this season.

"They came out strong in the first period and I think that was the difference in the game for sure," Booth said.

Forward Nazem Kadri is expected to slide back into the lineup tonight. He has been held out for the past three games for disciplinary reasons stemming from his late arrival to a team meeting last weekend.

Through 64 games this season, Kadri has 16 goals and 20 assists, ranking fourth on the club with 36 points.

Bernier figures to start tonight and has won all three of his career outings versus the Canucks, posting a 2.00 goals against average and .945 save percentage.