Flames-Canucks Preview

The Associated PressMarch 8, 2014

A fierce line brawl immediately broke out when the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames met last.

Now, the Canucks are fighting for their playoff lives.

Hoping to keep pace in the hunt, Vancouver tries to continue its recent domination of visiting Calgary when these Pacific Division foes meet Saturday night.

Five fights broke out at the same time just two seconds into the Canucks' 3-2 shootout win over the Flames (25-31-7) on Jan. 18. The game featured 10 fighting majors, eight game misconducts and an NHL season-high 204 penalty minutes.

"They started their goon squad over there," said Canucks forward Tom Sestito, who leads the league with 173 penalty minutes. "I just don't think we're going to be backing down from guys."

Vancouver (28-27-10) now has bigger concerns. The Canucks have scored 16 goals during a 1-10-1 slide, and they're on the verge of a fifth straight loss after falling 6-1 at Dallas on Thursday.

Vancouver sits in fifth place in the Western Conference wild-card standings, four points behind the Stars, who hold the second wild-card spot.

"It's hard on us right now to try to overcome that right away without even getting in the game, it happened so early. Are they fragile? Sure, but we got to figure it out," coach John Tortorella, whose team trailed 3-0 after 12 minutes, told the NHL's official website. "No one else is going to figure it out for us. We have to try to find a way to get some sort of consistency in our game for some good things to happen for us."

Zac Dalpe scored the Canucks' goal with 1:45 remaining in the second period. Vancouver outshot the Stars 33-22, including 16-5 over the final 20 minutes.

"It was a humiliating game to be a part of, just to be outplayed," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "I don't care what the shots were. .... When the game was on the line, we were just flat out outplayed by a team that executed better than us."

Rookie Eddie Lack stopped 12 of 17 shots over the first two periods before giving way to newcomer Jacob Markstrom, who was acquired from Florida in Tuesday's Roberto Luongo trade. Lack is 1-8-1 despite a 2.21 goals-against average and one shutout in his last 10 starts.

"It feels like we're ready when the game starts, and then we kind of just collapsed," he said. "For me, I kind of just have to look at myself tonight ... and have to be better."

The Canucks could be feeling good about their chances of getting on track against Calgary. Vancouver is 18-3-3 in the series dating to December 2009, taking the last five meetings by a combined 18-9 score.

However, the Flames have won three of four after storming back to beat the Islanders 4-3 on Friday. Joe Colborne scored two of Calgary's three goals during a five-minute stretch in the third period, including the go-ahead tally with 4:19 remaining.

"We had a good little talk in the locker room and the boys got back and they were on their toes again," coach Bob Hartley said. "When we work, when we drive the net, we're a pretty solid team. I don't care how many kids we have in the lineup. It's all about passion.

"We never quit. I'm pretty proud of my boys."

Rookie Joni Ortio made 23 saves, improving to 2-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA since debuting last Thursday.

Canucks forward Zack Kassian will serve the first of a three-game suspension for his hit on Stars' defenseman Brenden Dillon.