VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks (24-24-7) are out to snap a three-game winless skid when they host the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames (34-15-5) tonight at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks are back in action after a 4-3 overtime setback in Chicago on Thursday. That dropped them to 0-2-1 in their past three games and 1-3-1 in their last five. In the process, the Canucks have fallen below the playoff bar in the Western Conference wildcard chase. Josh Leivo had a goal and two assists against the Blackhawks, while Elias Pettersson and Alex Biega scored the other Vancouver goals. Jacob Markstrom made 31 saves in his sixth straight start. He has been in goal for 12 of the past 13 Canucks games and will get the nod again tonight.
Pettersson has scored in back to back games and now has 25 goals in his rookie season. Four of those goals have come in three games against the Flames, including his first NHL goal in his Canucks debut on Oct. 3.
The Canucks will use the same 18 skaters they have for the past two games. They will move Antoine Roussel and Nikolay Goldobin to the wings on Bo Horvat’s line, while Josh Leivo plays the left side with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Markus Granlund drops to left wing with Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen.
The Canucks need Horvat and Jake Virtanen to find their scoring touches. Two of the team’s top four goal scorers on the season each have just one goal in their past 17 games. Horvat has gone five without a goal since a January 20th home game against Detroit, while Virtanen last scored last Saturday in Denver. They’re not alone in their offensive struggles -- Brandon Sutter and Nikolay Goldobin each have one goal in their last 17 games played, as well.
Travis Green revealed this morning that Sven Baertschi is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms suffered a week ago tonight in Colorado. The winger missed 30 games earlier in the season with a head injury. Baertschi has appeared in just 22 games this season.
Ben Hutton logged a career-high 31:18 on Thursday in Chicago. That was a season-high for any Canuck and was the ninth-highest ice time for a Vancouver skater in the past decade. Hutton played 11:13 of the third period with the Canucks trailing by a goal and looking for the equalizer.
The Canucks registered 43 shots in Chicago on Thursday. That was two off the team’s season-high for shots in a game. They have hit the 40-shot mark in two of their last three outings and four of their last 17. On the season, they’ve recorded 40 or more shots on goal five times, however, they have just one win in those games (1-2-2). Their season-high is 45 shots in a 4-3 OT win in Ottawa on Jan. 2.
The Canucks will play their next two games on home ice and have 16 of their final 27 at Rogers Arena. Tonight marks the start of six straight against divisional rivals and 15 of the final 27 are within the Pacific Division.
Calgary jets into Vancouver on the heels of a 5-2 loss at home to San Jose on Thursday night. Mark Jankowski and TJ Brodie had the Flames goals and David Rittich got the start and allowed two early goals before being replaced by Mike Smith.
While the Flames have dropped two of their last three, those are their only regulation losses during a 9-2-1 stretch.
Johnny Gaudreau leads Calgary in goals, assists and points with 29+45=74 on the season. He started the day sitting fifth in NHL scoring. With Sean Monahan (62), Elias Lindholm (60), Matthew Tkachuk (57) and Mark Giordano (54), the Flames have five players in the top 30 of NHL scoring. Giordano trails only Brent Burns in scoring by defensemen this season.
With 199 goals on the season, the Flames are the second-highest scoring team in the league averaging 3.69 goals per game.
Calgary is starting its longest road trip of the season tonight. After a stop in Vancouver, the Flames will visit Tampa, Florida and Pittsburgh. They will also make a separate trip to Ottawa, New York Islanders and New Jersey before the month is through.
The Canucks are 2-1 against the Flames so far this season with one more meeting still to come. Their last meeting resulted in a 3-2 Canucks overtime victory at the Saddledome on Dec. 29. Calgary will be back in Vancouver on Mar. 23. Pettersson leads all scorers in the season series with 4+2=6 in the first three meetings while Tkachuk has 1+4=5.