Saturday, March 6

Canucks looks to close series against Flames on high note


The good has not been good enough for the Vancouver Canucks, and when they travel to Calgary to face the Flames on Wednesday for the fourth consecutive meeting between the clubs, they must somehow find a way to change gears.

Even though the Canucks have been winning more consistently lately, they are still a team with only one win in their last eight games. They lost a 4-3 clash in overtime with the Flames, a game in which they blew a 2-0 lead in the first period, fell behind on an unfortunate goal, scored a late count that tied the game but still savored the defeat.

“Sometimes it feels like when it rains, it pours,” forward Tanner Pearson said. “We just have to keep working to get out of this and keep looking on the bright side. Hard rebounds happen. That’s hockey. It’s what you do afterwards to get out of it.”

Calgary won two of the first three meetings in this four-game set. In addition, the Flames have won four of the five games this season, one of the reasons the Canucks rank only ahead of the basement-living Ottawa Senators in the North Division standings.

Staying confident is as much part of the battle as anything else for the Canucks.

“We are a bit frustrated and we have to get back to how we know we can play,” captain Bo Horvat said. “He’s simplifying it a bit, and it’s not that we don’t have opportunities. It’s a matter of burying them when they’re there and we’re a bit shaky right now. We have to sharpen it.”

At least Brock Boeser’s late draw to send the game into overtime – a short player count while the Canucks’ net was empty – is the kind of goal that can power a team, even after a loss.

“It shows that we can’t stop taking the goalkeeper out and getting one,” Boeser said. “But obviously we made some mistakes. We didn’t make them and we won the game. We have some little details that we have to fix.”

The Flames have won their last four of five overall, but they’re not exactly a well-oiled machine. Slow starts – the last game they lost 2-0 in the first period in large part thanks to receiving four penalties in the opening frame – have been a huge problem. Calgary has given up the first goal in nine of 15 games. Sure, the Flames are 4-5-0 in those matchups, but it’s hard to expect victories back. Incredibly, they were much better in the first frame than they were in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Canucks.

“We are very capable of playing a solid 60-minute game,” said forward Johnny Gaudreau, whose eighth overtime goal in the regular season made all the difference. “Obviously on Saturday, that wasn’t the team we know we are … I thought we played a really good and strong second and third period. Obviously they drew late there and we want to improve on that … but we found a way to win in extra time and get out of here with four out of six points. “

The trick for the Flames is to build on their successes and climb the leaderboard.

“We were much, much better,” coach Geoff Ward said of his team’s victory on Monday. “Definitely a step in the right direction for us.”

With the Flames off Tuesday, it was unknown if center Mikael Backlund would return to the lineup for Wednesday’s game. He missed the last crash due to a lower body injury and is listed as day to day.

–Field level media



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