The Calgary Flames will travel on the road to Rogers Arena on Saturday night, as they prepare to wind down the regular season with a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary is clinging to the top spot in the Pacific Division standings, but they’ve started to put some separation between themselves and the San Jose Sharks for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Flames have compiled 99 points through 74 games so far this season, putting them five points ahead of the Sharks, who have a game in-hand heading into action on Friday night. Can the Flames keep their momentum going with an important road victory against the Canucks on Saturday night?
Flames still fighting for first place in Western Conference
Calgary extended their Pacific Division lead by winning for the fifth time in six games on Wednesday evening, taking down the Ottawa Senators 5-1. Andrew Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway finished with a goal and an assist, while Matthew Tkachuk also scored to win the matchup against his brother, Brady. Veteran netminder Mike Smith stopped 18 of 19 shots in the win to continue his strong play since the All-Star Break.
David Rittich is scheduled to patrol the crease for the Flames on Saturday night. The 26-year-old goaltender has been a revelation for Calgary between the pipes this season, going 26-7-5 with a 2.63 GAA and a .911 save percentage so far this year. However, he has had some troubles versus the Canucks this season, taking two overtime losses against Vancouver, while sporting a 2.82 GAA and an .885 save percentage in two starts. While Rittich is 13-1-4 at home this season, his GAA is 1.25 goals per game lower on the road (3.29 at home compared to 2.04 on the road) and he sports a healthy .933 save percentage in 21 starts away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Flames are currently pegged to face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL playoffs and they lead the season series 3-0-0 through their first three matchups. Calgary has scored 3.56 goals per game (3rd in the NHL), while converting on 21.2 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage for the season (10th in the NHL). They have also been solid defensively too, allowing just 2.79 goals per contest (10th in the NHL). However, the Flames have left room for improvement on the penalty kill, fending off just 79.7 percent of their total penalties so far this year (20th in the NHL).
Canucks finishing regular season strong
Vancouver continued their strong finish to the regular season on Wednesday evening, as they won their third straight game 7-4 over the Ottawa Senators. Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson each finished with two goals and an assist, while Loui Eriksson finished with a goal and three helpers on the night to help propel Vancouver to victory. The Canucks were up 5-0 before the Senators riled off four straight goals in the third period to make things interesting late. Vancouver has now compiled points in five straight games, going 4-0-1 during that span.
Jacob Markstrom is expected to be back between the pipes for the Canucks after stopping 21 of 25 shots in his last game against Ottawa. Markstrom comes in with a 27-20-9 overall record to go along with a 2.73 GAA and a .913 save percentage so far this year. Markstrom has had the Flames’ number this season, going 3-1-0 in four starts versus Calgary, while sporting a 2.92 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
The Canucks have scored 2.73 goals per game (23rd in the NHL), while allowing 3.03 goals per game (17th in the NHL) so far this year. Vancouver has struggled on special teams, converting on just 15.9 percent of their power play chances (23rd in the NHL) and killing
- Canucks are 16-35 in their last 51 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Canucks are 7-16 in their last 23 games as a home favorite.
- Canucks are 18-44 in their last 62 vs. Pacific.
- Flames are 6-1 in their last 7 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Flames are 5-1 in their last 6 overall.
- Flames are 9-2 in their last 11 games following a win.