Despite the Calgary Flames' dismal play on the road, the Vancouver Canucks won't take anything for granted.
With at least two key players possibly ready to return from injuries, the Northwest Division-leading Canucks look to match a season high with their fifth straight home win while trying to extend the longest road slide in Flames' history Saturday night.
Vancouver (20-11-6) took a two-point division lead over Minnesota by avoiding a third straight overall loss with Thursday's 4-0 victory over Edmonton. Cory Schneider made 23 saves, Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and recently acquired forward Derek Roy added an assist in his team debut.
The Canucks own a 12-3 scoring advantage during their four-game home winning streak. But they know they can't afford to let down their guard against a Calgary squad that's mired in a franchise-worst 0-11-1 road stretch dating to a 4-3 win at Dallas on Feb. 17.
"They have a proud group of individuals," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Calgary is going to come in here and try to put (its) best game on the ice and we are going to have to be ready."
The Canucks won the first two meetings this season - both at home - but fell 4-2 at Calgary (13-19-4) on March 3.
Vigneault seems to feel confident that forwards Mason Raymond and Dale Weise can return from their injuries Friday. Raymond, fifth on the team with 18 points, has missed two games with an upper-body injury while Weise has sat the last six with a bad shoulder.
Raymond had a goal and an assist in the two home contests versus Calgary this season.
Star center Ryan Kesler has been limited to seven games with Vancouver because of a broken foot, but also appears close to returning.
"Right now there's a possibility we're going to have a couple of guys back. We need them," Vigneault said. "We're like any other team, we need our players to be healthy and help us win games."
Sedin had a goal and an assist in each of the last two home games, and has three assists overall against the Flames in 2013.
Coming off his fourth shutout, Schneider has allowed three goals on 107 shots during the last four home contests. He's stopped 67 of 70 shots in both meetings this season versus Calgary at Rogers Arena.
The Flames allowed a tiebreaking goal with a 2:06 left in the third period of Friday's 2-1 loss at streaking San Jose to extend their road woes.
On the bright side, Miikka Kiprusoff made a season-high 39 saves and Mikael Backlund opened the scoring with a power-play goal for Calgary. The team has just three goals in four road contests, but was more competitive after giving up 18 while losing the previous three overall.
"(The Sharks) did a good job creating offense like they usually do and ultimately cashed in on it," said Flames forward Michael Cammalleri, who had an assist. "We have to work more on playing in their end instead of ours."
Losers of eight of 10, the Flames continue to fall further out of postseason contention. They're now 12 points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Backlund has scored four of his 21 career goals in his last six games versus Vancouver.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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