VANCOUVER – Markus Granlund’s first goal as a Canuck gave Vancouver fans a much-needed taste of home-ice victory.
Granlund scored in overtime as the Canucks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on Wednesday.
The Swedish centre, who arrived in Vancouver after a trade from the Calgary Flames on Feb. 22, scored on a 2-on-1 with Jake Virtanen at 1:42 of the extra period.
Those home victories have felt far and few between this season for the Canucks, who are now 12-16-5 at Rogers Arena.
“It’s big for us and for the fans. It’s a good win here on home ice,” said Granlund.
Radim Vrbata and Luca Sbisa also scored for the Canucks (26-28-12), who are long shots to reach the post-season at 10 points back of Colorado for the final wild-card berth in the West.
Backup Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom, who stopped 32 shots, says a home win really changes the locker-room vibe.
“You come into the room and you notice everyone is happy, everyone is smiling and that’s the way you want it to be when you come in after a game, especially at home,” he said. “And the fans are happy, you want to play for them too. There’s a lot of pride going on right now.”
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Kevin Connauton and Tobias Rieder scored for the Coyotes (28-32-7), who have lost nine of their last 10 outings. Louis Domingue made 28 saves for Arizona, which is one point back of Vancouver in the Pacific.
The Coyotes led 2-0 in the second period, but couldn’t hold on.
“It’s certainly frustrating,” said Alex Tanguay, who set up Rieder’s power-play goal. “When you are up 2-0 on the road you have to make sure you play solid, you don’t get lost, you play the position.
“The outcome is very frustrating.”
The Canucks controlled most of the first period thanks to a steady stream of Coyotes to the penalty box. Vancouver had three power-play opportunities in the first, outshooting Arizona 15-10.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, capitalized on their first power-play chance early in the second. Tanguay found Rieder unchecked in the slot to make it 1-0 at 2:57.
Arizona jumped ahead 2-0 about five minutes later as Anthony Duclair, controlling the puck behind the net, dished it out to the face-off dot where Connauton wristed it over Markstrom’s shoulder.
Vrbata put Vancouver on the board at 11:55, as he took a pass from Yannick Weber, split the defence and went backhand over Domingue. It was his 13th of the season and first at even strength since Dec. 18.
“I thought we battled back, especially when we went down two zip,” said Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardin. “That goal by Vrbata was a big goal to get us going here. He made a good play on it and Webber made a good pass.”
It was a tied game with just over two minutes left in the second when Sbisa ripped a slap shot from the point.
Markstrom made a big glove save on Shane Doan’s high wrist shot from the slot with 90 seconds left to play. He also stopped a breakaway attempt by Max Domi in OT.
The Canucks have won three-of-four meetings with Arizona this season. All four games were decided by one goal.
Notes: The Coyotes were without points leader and star defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (upper-body injury). … Vancouver was missing top centre Henrik Sedin (upper body) and defenceman Chris Tanev, who were injured Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.
© 2016 The Canadian Press