Back home for one game before hitting the road again, the first-place Calgary Flames are looking to put more distance between themselves and second-place Vancouver in the Northwest Division.
The Canucks, however, are playing some of their best hockey following their longest slide of 2008-09 as they look to draw closer to the Flames in the teams’ fifth meeting of the season.
Calgary (33-18-5) returns to the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday following a 2-0-1 trip that ended with a 7-5 win over Phoenix on Saturday. Matthew Lombardi had two goals and an assist as the Flames followed up Thursday’s 2-0 win over Los Angeles by matching their highest goal total of the season.
“This was a good trip for us,” Flames assistant coach Jim Playfair said. “Getting two points on the road in any game at this time of the year is critical.”
Calgary’s ability to do that will be severely tested over the next month. Following Tuesday’s game, the Flames play nine of 12 on the road.
After recording no points during Calgary’s four-game skid from Feb. 2-7, Lombardi has three goals and four assists in his last four contests. Lombardi, though, has just one goal in the four matchups between the Flames and Canucks this season, with the teams splitting those games.
Calgary will be looking to push its lead over Vancouver to double digits, as it’s nine points ahead of the Canucks. The teams meet one more time this season, April 7 at GM Place.
While Lombardi has been hot, Calgary leading scorer Jarome Iginla has gone seven games without a goal. The Flames captain has just two goals since scoring twice in a 6-4 win over Edmonton on Dec. 31.
“I would like to be scoring and I expect myself to contribute goals,” Iginla told the team’s official Web site. “That’s a part of my job and a part of my role. Right now, it’s unfortunate not to be finding the net as much as I’d like.”
Iginla has no goals against Vancouver this season.
Cammalleri has four goals and an assist versus Vancouver this season. He notched a hat trick in the Flames’ 4-3 road win over the Canucks on Nov. 27.
Miikka Kiprusoff improved his NHL-leading win total to 33 with 32 saves against the Coyotes. He stopped 19 of 20 shots in the first period.
Kiprusoff is 3-0-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average in his last four home starts against Vancouver.
Slowing down a surging Canucks club, though, will be a challenge for Kiprusoff and the Flames. Vancouver (27-21-8), which opens a four-game trip Tuesday, has averaged 4.33 goals while winning five of six. The Canucks scored 2.75 goals per game during a 0-5-3 skid from Jan. 9-31.
Vancouver moved up four spots to fifth place in the Western Conference with a 4-2 win over Montreal on Sunday. Daniel and Henrik Sedin each had a goal and assist for the Canucks.
“They are easy to play with for me,” said new linemate Alex Burrow, who had his second two-assist game of the season. “It’s just getting them the puck and go to the net and bring some guys with me to open some space for them.”
Daniel Sedin has three goals and three assists against the Flames in 2008-09 while Henrik has a goal and four assists.
The Canucks did not commit a penalty Sunday for the first time since a 2-1 win over Nashville on Jan. 8, 2001.
“That’s a great recipe for not giving up power-play goals,” said the Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, 2-0-0 with a 1.94 GAA versus Calgary this season.
The Flames have just three power-play goals in their last eight contests.
Calgary is 4-1-2 in its last seven home games against Vancouver.