The Calgary Flames are spending most of the next two weeks at home, and that could mean bad news for the rest of the Northwest Division.
Hoping to extend their franchise-record home winning streak to 11 games, the Flames meet the road-weary Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
This game is the start of a home-and-home set that will be completed Wednesday in Vancouver. After that, the Flames begin a season-high six-game homestand Friday against Los Angeles.
Based on their strong home play, the Flames could take this opportunity to break out of a crowded Northwest Division. Calgary (17-13-3) is two points ahead of last-place Vancouver but only one behind Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota— all tied for the division lead.
The Flames lost three of their first five home games this season before going on its record run behind the goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been in net throughout the win streak at Pengrowth Saddledome, giving up 11 goals while recording three shutouts— including one apiece against Pacific Division-leading Anaheim and defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina.
Kiprusoff’s worst outing during the win streak came on Dec. 9 in a 5-3 win over Vancouver (17-18-1). Despite a 1.86 goals-average average at home in his career against the Canucks, Kiprusoff is just 5-4-0.
The Flames are coming off a 2-3-0 road trip—it was supposed to be six games but Thursday’s matchup at Colorado was postponed due to the blizzard in the Denver area.
Matthew Lombardi’s short-handed goal Saturday gave the Flames a first-period lead, but they fell 4-1 to San Jose. The loss was Calgary’s sixth in nine road games and first in 14 contests when leading after one period.
“We had a lead after the first period and we didn’t push hard enough in the second,” Calgary coach Jim Playfair said. “We let them back in the game.”
Vancouver lost its third in a row overall and sixth straight on the road with a 3-2 defeat to Columbus on Friday. Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks, who have managed just eight goals during its road skid.
“Right now Bieksa’s got eight goals and six of our other forwards have eight goals combined,” said frustrated Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, whose team has scored a league-low 80 goals this season.
Markus Naslund, the Canucks’ leading scorer each of the last seven seasons, continues to falter. A three-time 40-goal scorer, Naslund has just 12 in 36 games this season and hasn’t found the back of the net in 11 games since Nov. 28.
Roberto Luongo also continues to struggle in net during his first season in Vancouver. He is 17-15-1 overall, but is 6-8-1 on the road, where he has given up 15 goals in his last four starts.
He earned his first win in five career games over Calgary by making 21 saves in a 3-1 win on Dec. 14 in Vancouver.