NHL Hockey

3
Final 1 2 3 Tot
Calgary 1 1 1 3
Vancouver 0 0 1 1
1
7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ET23:00 BRT, March 23, 2019
Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia  Attendance: 18,685

Canucks keep dreaming, hoping for best against Flames

Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks

  1. Calgary beat Ottawa, 5-1, on Thursday and has now won five straight home games but lost each of its last three road games. The Flames are averaging 4.27 goals per game at home this season but just 2.89 on the road; that +1.38 differential is the largest in the NHL.
  2. Vancouver beat Ottawa, 7-4, on Wednesday and has taken points in five straight games (4-0-1). The Canucks have scored seven-plus goals three times this season, their most in a single season since doing so three times in 2010-11.
  3. The Canucks have won three of the four meetings with the Flames this season, including each of the last two in overtime/shootout. The Canucks have won five of the last seven meetings in Vancouver dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season.
  4. Matthew Tkachuk lit the lamp on Thursday for his ninth goal this month, tied with James van Riemsdyk for the most in the NHL. Tkachuk has scored eight goals in his last six games after tallying just eight points (2g, 6a) in his previous 20 skates.
  5. Mark Giordano is riding a career-long six-game point streak after never recording a point in even three straight games prior to this streak. He has 11 career goals against the Canucks, tied with Brent Burns for the most among active defenseman against Vancouver.
  6. Bo Horvat earned first-star honors with two goals and an assist in the win over Ottawa, his second consecutive game with a goal and an assist. He looks to join Elias Pettersson this season (December 6-11) as the only Canucks to record one of each in three straight games; prior to this season, the last Canuck had been Daniel Sedin from April 9 to October 7, 2015.

The Vancouver Canucks are daring to dream again.

For much of the NHL season, the Canucks (32-32-10) have remained well below the playoff bar. But heading into Saturday's home game against the Calgary Flames (46-21-7), the Canucks are just four points shy of a postseason berth.

A three-game win streak, points from overtime and shootout losses, and other teams' inconsistencies have put Vancouver back in the hunt. A few days ago, many fans and media types questioned whether the Canucks should lose deliberately to gain a chance at a better draft position.

"It's just crazy," center Bo Horvat told reporters, referring to the team's renewed playoff contention. "It just shows you never know what can happen.

"Down the stretch here we have been playing some good hockey. We're just going to keep plugging away and try and make a run for it. We're playing good hockey. We just have to keep it up."

A playoff berth still appears highly unlikely. The Canucks are among five clubs vying for likely only one playoff spot. All others in the conference are virtually, although not mathematically, locked up. But the Canucks are determined to do as much as they can to avoid a fourth straight spring of watching other teams battle for the Stanley Cup.

"We still have a lot of hope in this (dressing) room," winger Jake Virtanen told reporters. "We're committed. We still believe in the room. We want to make the playoffs. Hopefully, we get some luck on our side and we keep winning games."

The Canucks are coming off a 7-4 thumping of the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Most of Vancouver's recent points have come against playoff also-rans. But on Saturday, the Canucks must beat a legitimate Stanley Cup contender that is getting hot at the right time.

The Flames have won five of their past six games after losing four straight at the beginning of March.

"The month of February took a toll," Flames coach Bill Peters told reporters. "And, (since) then, we've taken some additional days off, and I think we've skated better because of it."

The Flames are battling for first place in the Western Conference as well as their division.

"It's a good thing we're in this race for the division -- it's keeping us sharp and keeping us focused and hopefully that will lead to us playing our best hockey going into the playoffs," captain Mark Giordano told Sportsnet.ca. "It's great. You come to the rink and the mood is great and guys are feeling good about themselves.

The chirps are a lot funnier when things are going well."

Giordano is most proud of his club's consistency.

"We brought our game on most nights," he said. "We've been through a bunch of years where things haven't gone the best for us and we all realize you can't let it slip because if you do for even a week or two in this league, (the losses) can really pile on."

Giordano scored a short-handed goal Thursday in a 5-1 win over Ottawa to extend his points streak to six games. Peters could only shake his head in disbelief that a defenseman had scored a short-handed marker. The shorty was Calgary's 18th of the season.

The Flames boast elite offensive talent in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. But they have also been getting help from unsung heroes like Giordano, who has 69 points and will likely be in the running for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman.

On Thursday, the fourth line of Andrew Mangiapane, Garnet Hathaway and Derek Ryan combined for two goals and enjoyed a six-point night as each earned two points.

"They're tenacious," said Peters. "That line is doing everything right. In all three zones, they're doing things right."

In other words, Peters appreciates the trio's defensive play as well as its offensive contributions.

"If you're one-dimensional at this time of year, you won't be playing for us," said Peters.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 22, 2019

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