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Hansen's OT goal lifts Canucks past Oilers

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Blood was still trickling from a golf ball-sized lump on Jannik Hansen's forehead as he sat at his locker talking to the media Saturday, after the Vancouver Canucks' training staff got it to stop long enough for the speedy forward to win the game.

Hansen left late in the third period after colliding face-first with the crossbar but returned to score his second goal of the game with 58.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Canucks a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena.

Hansen, who had blood running down his forehead when he left with 1:04 left in the third period, still wasn't sure how many stitches he needed to close one of two horizontal gashes above and below the lump, but he never doubted his return.

"I'm not too sure; I think two, three, maybe four," Hansen said of the stitches above his left eye, just below his hair line. "It wasn't too many, that's why they could get it done so quick. … It's a fortunate spot, it's not a spot that was erupting in any way and they were quick on the freezing too. It took them not even five minutes."

Hansen returned midway through the five-minute overtime. On his second shift, he took a pass from Matt Bartkowski, skated full speed into the Edmonton zone and beat Cam Talbot through the blocker side arm with a hard slap shot from the top of the right circle.

The victory was the Canucks' first in eight decisions in 3-on-3 overtime, and as Hansen explained his thought process with the shot, it was clear that Vancouver's past failures in the new format played a role.

"As hard as you can and far [side] somewhere so he has to use his blocker someway, somehow," Hansen said of where he aimed his shot. "And 3-on-3 you can't miss the net either, so just trying to balance those two things, get it far enough out that it can go in and not missing the net so it goes the other way."

Jacob Markstrom made 32 saves to win his second straight start since Ryan Miller left with an injury during the shootout on Dec. 20 against the Florida Panthers. Markstrom made three of his saves in overtime and was credited with an assist on Hansen's game-winner for the Canucks (14-14-9), who are 3-0-1 in their past four games.

"We were due in OT, that was a big win for us," Markstrom said.

Mark Letestu scored and Talbot, who was starting consecutive games for the first time since late October, made 22 saves for the Oilers (15-18-3), who have lost five straight and 10 of their past 12 games on the road. Edmonton had a couple of great chances to win in overtime, including one on which defenseman Andrej Sekera whiffed at an early empty net with Markstrom out of position, but fell to 5-3 in overtime.

"We had opportunities, and we had the puck a lot in overtime," coach Todd McLellan said. "There were a couple of open nets where they whacked at it and they did a good job of getting sticks on it. They came down and Cam had really good position, he was out far, but just slid it through and that happens sometimes."

The Oilers wrap up a two-game road trip against the Calgary Flames on Sunday before beginning a six-game homestand.

"We're a better team than how we're playing. I believe that. I've told the players that a number of times," McLellan said, blaming an 0-for-3 power play and some rust after a four-day off Christmas break. "There were five or six players that were a little ragged and you could tell they hadn't been on skates, whether it was their polish or the pace they were playing at. Every team has that right now, but the quicker you can clean that up, the better you have an opportunity to win. Now playing this game, maybe that will help us tomorrow, at least in the first half of the game. We need to take advantage of it."

Letestu took advantage of a turnover to open the scoring 7:05 into the first period after Vancouver forward Radim Vrbata tried to juggle a puck out of the air to himself with his stick just inside his own blue line. Instead, the puck came to Edmonton forward Lauri Korpikoski; he tipped it ahead to Letestu, who used Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler as a screen and beat Markstrom on the glove side from above the right hash mark.

It was Letestu's fourth goal of the season and first in 10 games.

"It was certainly a better road game than we've been playing," Letestu said. "We haven't been ahead on the shot clock or had very many good stretches as far as offensive hockey. Tonight there was some of it. I liked our start. It was a hard-fought game. Sometimes it comes down to overtime and they had the last best shot."

Hansen tied it 3:37 into the second period after a pretty pass from Henrik Sedin. Henrik took a pass from Daniel Sedin in the corner and carried the puck below the goal line before lifting a pass over defenseman Nikita Nikitin as he dropped to block it, and onto the stick of Hansen in the slot for a one-timer through Talbot's legs.

"The twins are doing their thing and you find open space, they'll find you," Hansen said.

The Canucks were missing top-pairing defenseman Christopher Tanev, who was hurt blocking a shot by Steven Stamkos in the final seconds against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 22, Vancouver's last game before a three-day Christmas break.

With Tanev joining defensive regulars Dan Hamhuis and Luca Sbisa on the sidelines, Andrey Pedan played his second NHL game, and first in his natural position as a defenseman after skating as a forward on Dec. 1 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Forward Alexandre Burrows was also a surprise late scratch with an upper-body injury as the Canucks, who have played 17 of their past 23 game on the road, opened a season-long seven-game homestand.

"I thought all of our guys knew what we were missing," coach Willie Desjardins said, "and everybody went out and battled."

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