Flames-Canucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 23, 2011
ANDY LEFKOWITZ STATS Writer Thanks largely to Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks are in position to take over the lead in the Northwest Division. Curtis Glencross, meanwhile, is making sure the Calgary Flames don't fall farther back in the Western Conference race. The surging Canucks try to extend their dominance of the Flames on Friday night at Rogers Arena. Buoyed by a 12-2-1 stretch, the Canucks (21-11-2) have moved within one point of Minnesota - losers of six in a row - for first place in the Northwest. Henrik Sedin has tallied nearly half of his team-best 40 points during Vancouver's hot stretch. All three of his goals have come on the power play and he's chipped in 16 of his NHL-leading 31 assists. A notoriously slow starter, Luongo has turned things around. After struggling to a 7-6-1 record with a 3.05 goals-against average over the first two months, Luongo is 7-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and his only shutout of the season since Dec. 4. He made 38 saves and Vancouver got goals from four players in a 4-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday. "Our goaltender stood his ground like a great goaltender does," coach Alain Vigneault said. The Canucks have won both matchups with the Flames this season by 5-1 scores, and are 9-0-1 in the series since March 14, 2010. Luongo has earned both victories to improve to 9-0-2 with a 1.79 GAA since last falling to them in regulation on Oct. 16, 2009. Offensively, Henrik and twin brother Daniel haven't been huge factors this season against Calgary, combining for two goals and two assists. Vancouver, however, has gotten two goals and two assists from Chris Higgins, while Ryan Kesler has chipped in four assists. David Booth, who was acquired from Florida on Oct. 22, has three assists among four points versus the Flames, but is out with a sprained knee ligament and not expected back until the end of January. Calgary (16-15-4) heads west to open a season-high seven-game road trip after Glencross scored twice in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Thursday. Glencross has four goals in a three-game streak - doubling the total from his previous 13 games - and is tied with Jarome Iginla for the team lead with 13 tallies. In 25 games against Vancouver, Glencross has managed just four goals and three assists. The Flames are 7-0-1 in their last eight at home, but they've dropped five straight away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. Iginla still needs three goals to become the 42nd player in NHL history to reach 500, tying former Flames great Lanny McDonald. But it's not likely that Calgary's captain will reach the milestone in British Columbia. Iginla has 27 goals in 82 career regular-season games against the Canucks, but has never scored more than twice in any of those contests. His last multi-goal game versus Vancouver came on Dec. 4, 2003. Miikka Kiprusoff, who's stopped 58 of 61 shots in wins over Minnesota and Detroit this week, is 3-9-0 with a 4.32 GAA in his last 13 games in Vancouver. Two of those wins have come via shootout. Calgary is expected to get Rene Bourque back in the lineup after a two-game suspension for a hit Sunday on Chicago's Brent Seabrook. Bourque is tied for second on the club with 11 goals but doesn't have any in his last eight games versus Vancouver.
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