SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Vancouver Canucks’ desperation outweighed the San Jose Sharks’ will on Thursday.
Canucks forward Jannik Hansen scored a tiebreaking goal late in the third period to enable the spoiler visitors to snap a nine-game losing streak by beating their playoff-bound hosts 4-2.
“It’s great to get a win,” Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had one. We’ve played hard in some games and haven’t won. It was nice to get one tonight.”
Hansen’s game-winner sailed over the blocker of Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 14:57 of the third period.
Markus Granlund scored his sixth goal of the season into an empty net at 19:39.
The loss left San Jose (43-29-6) trailing the first-place Los Angeles Kings by five points and the second-place Anaheim Ducks by four in the Pacific Division standings. The Sharks have four games left, and they appear headed for a third-place finish.
“Everyone in this room knows there’s still an opportunity to get home ice in the first round, and second round as well,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “We should be playing for our lives, and we didn’t tonight.”
Canucks goalie Ryan Miller finished with 32 saves, while Jones stopped 22 shots.
On the game-winner, Hansen took advantage of a San Jose turnover at center. Joe Thornton unsuccessfully tried to hook up with defenseman Brent Burns.
The Canucks scored their first three goals off Sharks turnovers.
“It was just a tough bounce off the wall,” Burns said. “We tried to get a seam play there, it just hit the boards and jumped out. Tough for us.”
Hansen said, “It’s always nice to get those bounces. We haven’t played bad hockey lately. We’ve been competing with some in the better teams in the West. We haven’t won, and, obviously, we’re not in the playoff hunt in any way. We still have a lot of pride.”
San Jose tied the game at 11:58 of the third period when Couture scored his fourth goal in two games against the Canucks. Couture waited out Miller and fired the puck over the Vancouver netminder for his 14th goal of the season after accepting a cross-ice feed by Burns from the right point.
Sharks right winger Joel Ward keyed the play as his hard forecheck separated Canucks defenseman Alex Biega from the puck on the end boards.
However, Vancouver responded to win for the sixth consecutive time inside SAP Center.
“That’s a team that’s got a lot of young guys in their lineup,” Couture said of the Canucks who had lost nine straight beforehand. “We should be able to beat that team when we’re four games away from the playoffs.
“We need to play a lot better than that.”
The Sharks fell behind 2-0 after one period but cut the deficit in half by scoring the only goal of the second.
The goal came on San Jose’s third power play of the game when Thornton spotted Patrick Marleau in the slot, and the veteran forward one-timed his 22nd goal of the season past Miller at 14:30.
The strike came 35 seconds into Hansen’s penalty for slashing Couture.
Miller came up large otherwise in the period. He denied Joe Pavelski on a backhand attempt at 9:15, a shot that caromed off the goalie and the near post. Tomas Hertl was just wide on a follow shot three minutes into the period after Miller made an initial stop.
San Jose appeared poised to tie the game on a late-period power play, but Pavelski took a tripping minor 31 seconds after Biega’s slash at 18:30.
The Canucks lost the services of second-line left winger Sven Baertschi at the outset of the second period due to an undisclosed injury.
A pair of early turnovers proved costly for the Sharks, who trailed 2-0 at the end of 20 minutes. Rookie left winger Joonas Donskoi was uncharacteristically guilty on both goals against.
“I think our start could have been better,” Pavelski said. “You want to get the first goal, especially against a team like that.”
Donskoi couldn’t handle a pass at center and watched as Vancouver transitioned the turnover into an odd-man break across the San Jose blue line. Jones made a pad save on Hansen’s drive from the right circle, but Daniel Sedin potted the long rebound at 1:09 for his 28th goal of the season.
Shortly after Miller denied Couture’s nifty redirection, the visitors struck again.
Vancouver center Bo Horvat stripped a retreating Donskoi, skated around the Sharks forward and beat Jones with a backhand move between the pads for his 13th goal at 13:55.
“Everyone can see I made mistakes, and we lost the game,” Donskoi said. “But it’s gone now.”
NOTES: San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic still has not returned to skating after sustaining a right knee injury that has cost him eight games — Thursday included — since March 17. The Sharks maintain Vlasic will be ready for the start of the playoffs, but there’s hope he can return late next week before the end of the regular season for a game or two. … RW Joel Ward returned to the Sharks’ lineup after missing Tuesday’s game in Vancouver. … Canucks D Jake Virtanen served the first of a two-game suspension Thursday for his illegal hit against San Jose D Roman Polak. … Vancouver D Christopher Tanev returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury. … The Sharks next play Saturday in Nashville. … The Canucks are back in action Friday at Anaheim. … C Micheal Haley was San Jose’s lone healthy scratch. … D Yannick Weber, RW Derek Dorsett and D Andrey Pedan did not dress for Vancouver.