Calgary 5th Pacific38-39-1-4
Vancouver 1st Pacific50-23-7-2

Calgary @ Vancouver preview

Rogers Arena

Last Meeting ( Mar 23, 2024 ) Calgary 2, Vancouver 4

The Vancouver Canucks hope to get a huge boost with No. 1 goaltender Thatcher Demko back between the pipes for Tuesday night's meeting with the visiting Calgary Flames.

The playoff-bound Canucks (49-22-9, 107 points) had penciled in Tuesday as the likely date for Demko's return from a knee injury. Demko himself said he planned to be ready to face the Flames (37-38-5, 79 points), giving him some much-needed game experience before the postseason starts this weekend.

"Our goal, since pretty much close to Day 1, was to get back to the Calgary game," Demko told reporters late last week. "Obviously I do feel good right now, but I think the timeline we've kind of been trying to follow and pushing for has been the Calgary game."

Demko was injured on March 9 against the Winnipeg Jets and has sat out the past 14 games. The Canucks, who lead the Pacific Division, have stumbled to a 7-5-2 record during that span.

Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet is focused on making sure Demko is fully recovered, and he said Demko is looking solid in practice and is on the verge of a return.

"He's our rock. When he does come back, obviously it instills confidence," Tocchet said. "He's just dialed in. I've never seen him happier because I think him dealing with whatever he had, it's boosted his confidence level. I really believe that."

In its most recent game, Vancouver completed a season-series sweep of the Edmonton Oilers as backup goalie Casey DeSmith made 32 saves in a 3-1 victory on Saturday.

The Canucks and Oilers are in a tussle for the Pacific title. Vancouver's win increased its division lead to five points over Edmonton, which was set to face the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Tuesday will be the final meeting of the four-game season series between Calgary and Vancouver. The Flames won 5-2 in November, but Vancouver has won the last two games, 4-3 and 4-2.

Red-hot Flames forward Andrei Kuzmenko will have something to prove on Tuesday. This is just his second game against his former team, which traded him on Jan. 31. Kuzmenko scored 39 goals for Vancouver as a rookie last season but had eight goals in 43 games before he was shipped to Calgary this season.

Kuzmenko has been in a comfort zone with nine goals and seven assists in his past nine games. Across the entire league, only Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov has more points over the same 18-day period.

Kuzmenko had a goal and an assist as the Flames rallied from a 5-3 deficit to beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-5 on Sunday.

"When he's feeling good about his game, he wants the puck on his stick and he can make things happen with it," Calgary coach Ryan Huska said of Kuzmenko. "I hope it's seeing some things that we're going to see in the future -- consistently -- from him.

"I mean at this time of the year, sometimes it's hard to tell because the games are a little bit different, for us, in the situation that we're in."

Nazem Kadri, who has had great chemistry on a line with Kuzmenko, scored twice in the third period against Arizona for his second straight three-point game.

--Field Level Media

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