Canucks-Flames Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 03, 2013
The Calgary Flames just failed to sign a top-line center, though it turns out they may have avoided a catastrophe. The Flames will try to rebound from a pair of road losses Sunday night when they host the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks. Calgary (7-8-4) signed restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly - Colorado's leading scorer last season - to an offer sheet on Thursday, but the Avs quickly matched it and inked the center to a two-year, $10 million deal. If Colorado had failed to match the Flames' offer within a week, it would have received Calgary's first- and third-round picks in the NHL draft. It was also reported that Calgary could have lost O'Reilly, who, according to the league's collective bargaining agreement, would have had to clear waivers since he played two games in Russia's KHL after the start of the NHL regular season. Flames general manager Jay Feaster said the team had a different interpretation of that portion of the CBA, but the league wouldn't clarify what could have resulted, instead saying that it had "become an academic point." While no harm was done with that unusual situation, it's uncertain if there will be any lingering effects from Thursday's 5-4 loss to Colorado. The Flames led 3-0 in the first period and 4-2 heading into the third. "We played a great first period and found a way to throw it to the dumpster,'' coach Bob Hartley said. Calgary, though, returns home with a chance to win three straight at the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since a four-game run from March 6-15. The Canucks (11-5-4), meanwhile, will try to build off Saturday's 5-2 victory Los Angeles as they open a stretch of four of five on the road. "That was our best game in a long time," captain Henrik Sedin said after recording a pair of assists to increase his team-leading total to 17. "It felt good." Vancouver is 13-2-3 in its last 18 games against the Flames after winning 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 23 and 5-1 on Feb. 9. The Canucks, though, are not overlooking their next opponent. "We know it won't be easy - they're a tough team to play in their building," Alex Burrows said. Cory Schneider was in net the last time the Canucks played at Calgary - a 3-2 loss on April 5 - but it's uncertain if he'll face the Flames for a third time this season. If he doesn't, Roberto Luongo will see his first action since giving up all the goals in last Sunday's 8-3 loss at Detroit. He had only allowed seven in his previous six starts. Luongo might have a good chance to bounce back if he gets the call Sunday. He's 4-0-1 with a 1.77 GAA in his last five starts in Calgary. Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who matched Schneider's 34 saves on Jan. 23, told the team's official website on Saturday that he's "pretty close" to returning after missing the last 12 games with a sprained MCL. If Kiprusoff can't go, Joey MacDonald would likely make a sixth consecutive start. He last faced the Canucks in 2009 while with Toronto. Leland Irving, who has since been sent back to the AHL, turned aside 26 Vancouver shots in last month's game. Daniel Sedin, the Canucks' leader with three points - all assists - against Calgary this season, recorded his team-high eighth goal on Saturday. Flames captain Jarome Iginla has scored four of his five goals in the last three contests after netting two on Thursday. He has one goal in his last 17 games against the Canucks. Calgary has won two straight at home in this series after losing the previous five.
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