Sam Gagner scores in overtime, Canucks beat Sharks 4-3 to snap losing skid
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VANCOUVER — Sam Gagner had shootout moves dancing through his head as he took the ice for his final shift Friday night.
The Vancouver Canucks forward ended up needing one of those dekes in overtime.
Gagner beat Martin Jones with a backhand on a breakaway at 4:34 of the extra period as Vancouver snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
"I just wanted to settle it down and get him moving," Gagner said after scoring his fourth goal of the year off a feed from Alexander Edler. "I was actually preparing a little bit for the shootout and what I was going to do if I had a chance."
The injury-riddled Canucks responded with a spirited effort following Wednesday's 7-1 capitulation on home ice to the Nashville Predators where their system completely fell apart in what was undoubtedly the season's low point.
"There was a lot of talk in here after last game," said Gagner, who scored his first goal in nine games. "Guys did a really good job."
Gagner signed a three-year, US$9.45-million contract with Vancouver in the off-season, but has failed to provide much in the way of offence 33 games into his Canucks career after putting up 18 goals and 32 assists with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-17.
"I'm here to create," said Gagner. "You've got to find a way to break through.
"Hopefully that one gets me going."
Markus Granlund, with two, and Brock Boeser scored in regulation for Vancouver (15-14-4), while Henrik and Daniel Sedin each added three assists. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves.
Granlund scored twice in the first period — his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign — following a pointed chat with head coach Travis Green following Friday's morning skate.
"He needs more from me," said Granlund, who had 19 goals last season. "I know I can play better."
After seeing his team outscored 20-5 during its four-game slide, Green put his lines in a blender Friday with four new combinations in hopes of finding some cohesion.
"We want to be aggressive," said Green. "We talked to our group about committing to defend, though, committing to team defence."
Brent Burns, with two, and Marcus Sorenson replied for San Jose (17-10-4), while Jones stopped 36 shots for the Sharks, who were playing their second game in as many nights after Thursday's 3-2 victory in Calgary.
San Jose came in having won 11 straight at Rogers Arena dating back to the Canucks' last victory on home ice over their Pacific Division rivals on Jan. 21, 2012. Vancouver was 0-9-2 over that stretch while getting outscored 41-14.
"They've lost a bunch in a row, they're sitting here rested, they got whacked last game," said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. "All the things set up for them to have an 'A' game, and they did."
San Jose mustered only one shot through the first 13 minutes of the final period while trailing 3-2, but got the equalizer with 5:49 left when Burns's point shot went off the skate of Canucks defenceman Alex Biega and beat Markstrom for his second of the night, sixth of the season, and fifth in five games.
"We found a way to get an important point on a night where we probably didn't deserve one," said DeBoer
The Canucks stormed out of the gate against the Sharks and led 2-1 after the first before Boeser stretched the lead to two.
The NHL's rookie scoring leader ripped a shot over Jones's shoulder on the power play at 11:56 of the second for his 17th, moments after slicing through the Sharks defence and ringing a shot off the post.
San Jose got that one back with 1:44 left in the period when former Canucks forward Jannik Hansen started a sequence that ended with Sorenson burying his first past Markstrom.
Already minus five regulars, including two thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (fractured foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out long-term, the Canucks announced on Friday morning that shutdown defenceman Christopher Tanev will miss two to three weeks with a groin strain.
Granlund, who came in with one goal in his last 12 games, opened the scoring 44 seconds in on the power play. Daniel Sedin redirected a slap pass in the slot from Henrik Sedin right to Granlund at the side of the net, and he beat Jones between the legs.
The Sharks tied it at 10:45 on a power play when Burns scored his fifth, but Granlund added his second after a San Jose penalty expired when Daniel Sedin's initial shot fell at the top of the crease to Henrik Sedin, who tapped it over to his teammate for a wide-open net at 14:27.
Notes: Sharks centre and leading scorer Logan Couture left in the third period with an undisclosed injury and did not return. ... San Jose forward Joel Ward picked up an assist for the 300th point of his NHL career in his 700th game.
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