Derrick Pouliot gives Canucks 2-1 win over Oilers; Vancouver wins third straight

Vancouver Canucks centre Henrik Sedin (33), of Sweden, centre Sam Gagner (89) and left wing Daniel Sedin (22), of Sweden, celebrate Gagner's goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER - A touch of the flu had Sam Gagner feeling queasy before the game.

Getting beaten by Connor McDavid on a first-period goal didn't make the Vancouver Canuck forward feel any better.

Gagner was able to settle his stomach with a second period goal, then defenceman Derrick Pouliot won the game in the third as the Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 Thursday night.

"You never want to be a culprit on a goal-against," said Gagner. "It was a tough one there. I thought the guys battled back really well. It's a nice feeling."

Gagner fell victim to McDavid's skill and some miscommunication with his own teammates.

Oiler defenceman Andrej Sekera flipped a puck down the ice. McDavid showed his speed by skating around Gagner then muscled defenceman Michael Del Zotto off the puck. He scored on a shot that hit goaltender Jacob Markstrom's blocker, went off the post, and into the net.

"When you get stuck on the ice with him (McDavid) it's not funny even when you are feeling 100 per cent," said Gagner. "Obviously he's special."

Gagner found some relief when he tied the game at 15:14 of the second period. Daniel Sedin took a shot from the faceoff circle that Oiler goalie Cam Talbot stopped. Gagner, alone at the side of the net, put in the rebound for his 10th goal of the season and third in four games.

Pouliot scored the winning goal just two minutes into the third period. He took a pass from Nikolay Goldobin, skated in on Talbot, made a deke then scored his first goal in 42 games.

"I didn't expect that much time walking down the slot," said Pouliot, who scored his third goal of the season. "It was a good play all around."

Pouliot has scored five goals in his 134-game career with Vancouver and Pittsburgh. All of them have been game winners.

"That's a weird statistic but pretty cool," he said.

It was the third consecutive win for the Canucks (29-40-9) who have won four of their past five games.

Gagner managed seven goals in is first 66 games this year. He's happy to get his scoring touch back late in the season.

"It does a lot for my confidence," he said. "When you go through struggles you have to try to keep an even keel, just like when you have success.

"As an offensive player it's nice to get results. It allows you to kind of feel better with the puck and feel good offensively."

Markstrom also had a strong game, making 35 saves. He's 4-0-0 in his last four starts.

"For me right now it's just a carry over from the feeling I had in the previous games," said Markstrom (22-26-6). "I just keep building on it."

It was the second consecutive loss for the Oilers (34-38-6), who are 3-2-1 in their last six games.

McDavid's goal was his 41st of the season, giving him an NHL leading 103 points, leaving him six ahead of Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov. McDavid trails Washington's Alex Ovechkin by four goals in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy.

The Oilers' captain has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last six games.

Leon Draisaitl had a chance to tie the game on an Oiler power play late in the third, but his shot hit the post. A Ryan Strome slapshot also hit the post after a Canuck giveaway with just over two minutes remaining.

"We had tons of chance this game," said Draisitl. "It didn't want to go in.

"We had our chances to win it. Everybody competed, and we battled hard."

Oiler coach Todd McLellan said the Canucks played solid defensively.

"They check well, they are really good through the neutral zone and I thought Markstrom had an exceptional game.

"Not an awful game by us but a game where the opportunities that presented themselves needed to be finished and they weren't."

An engaged crowd of 17,883 cheered on two teams not in the playoff hunt. In the third period there were loud chant of "let's go Oilers." That brought boos from the Canuck fans at Rogers Arena.

Adam Gaudette, the former Northeastern University Husky who recently signed with Vancouver after leading the NCAA with 30 goals and 60 points, played his first NHL game. On his opening shift he sent a sizzling shot just wide of the Oiler net.

"All I can do now it play my game and be smart out there," he said. "I'm just going to try to keep it simple."

NOTES: Gaudette is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in NCAA hockey. … Henrik Sedin's opening shift of the game was the 30,000th of his career. …. Brendan Gaunce returned to the Canuck lineup after missing 24 games with a foot injury. … With several Canucks down with the flue Jake Virtanen was a late scratch. … The game's first penalty came at 12:33 of the second period when Vancouver's Darren Archibald was called for interference. … Al Montoya dressed as the Oilers backup goaltender after missing two games with an injury.

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