The Vancouver Canucks probably wish their current stretch of eight straight games against Northwest Division opponents was even longer.
Resurgent Vancouver looks to continue its outstanding play versus its own division when the Calgary Flames make their first visit of the season to GM Place on Sunday night.
Although they’re barely over .500, the Canucks (9-8-1) are just four points behind Northwest-leading Colorado because of their success against division foes.
Vancouver is 7-0-1 within its division while 2-8-0 against all other teams. The only NHL club yet to lose in regulation to a division opponent, the Canucks’ only blemish in those contests is a 1-0 shootout defeat Wednesday to Edmonton.
Vancouver had a rare offensive outburst in a 6-2 victory Friday over Minnesota. Six players scored goals - three on the power play - and Roberto Luongo made 20 saves as the Canucks won for just the third time in 10 home games this season.
“The power play was good and again we had a good number of chances,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “But tonight we were able to put some past their goaltender and everybody knows how stingy Minnesota is with their defensively - they don’t give up much.”
Vancouver, which entered Friday averaging a league-low 1.67 goals a game at home, had their best offensive output since a 6-1 victory at Toronto on Jan. 13.
“It was foreign territory for us,” center Brendan Morrison said. “It doesn’t happen that often. It’s usually 2-1, 3-2, really low-scoring, tight-checking games (against Minnesota). They’ve got a couple of injuries and their goalies weren’t at their best tonight, but we’ll take that.”
Despite losing defensemen Sami Salo to a broken nose and Kevin Bieksa to a lacerated calf in a 3-0 loss to Nashville on Nov. 1, the Canucks have gone 4-0-1 since then. Luc Bourdon - one of the replacements for the injured players - scored his first NHL goal Friday.
Vancouver could be without another defenseman if the league decides to suspend Mattias Ohlund for his slash across the back of Mikko Koivu’s left leg with 3:54 left that resulted in a cracked bone. Ohlund - the team leader among defensemen with six points - received a five-minute slashing penalty.
Calgary used a strong defensive effort for its second straight victory, 3-1 over Edmonton on Saturday.
“It was a big win for us,” captain Jarome Iginla said. “After that five-game skid we were two games under .500. We knew with these divisional games we had to improve if we wanted to climb back into the playoffs.
“These are the types of games that you want to play in that situation. It was an emotional win for us, a big boost.”
Miikka Kiprusoff has stopped 41 of 44 shots in his last two starts after posting a 3.74 goals-against average during Calgary’s skid earlier this month.
With an assist on Craig Conroy’s third-period goal, Iginla has five goals and six assists in a nine-game points streak. He has just six assists in his last eight games against Vancouver, though.
The Canucks have a pair of one-goal victories this season over the Flames, and have won six of the last eight meetings.