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OT winner from “big game” Vlasic puts Sharks back on track

The Sharks needed overtime to drop the Ducks, but were encouraged by an otherwise dominant effort.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE — After an extended shift in their own end, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, and carried the puck into the offensive zone with one thing on his mind.

“I wasn’t going to pass it, I was on a breakaway,” Vlasic said with a wry smile.

On a night where the Sharks honored recent retiree Dan Boyle’s career, Vlasic clinched the Sharks’ overtime win with a Boyle-like effort, beating Anaheim goaltender John Gibson with a backhand, forehand deke with Ducks winger Corey Perry on his tail.

Great timing to score his first goal of the season.

“He’s a big-game player, so that’s what he does,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said. “Those guys find another level at key times, and he’s one of those guys.”

Gibson’s play in net was the main reason the game went to overtime in the first place. Starter Jonathan Bernier left the game after the first period, and Gibson was dominant in his stead, stopping the first 24 shots he faced before Vlasic scored the game-winner.

The Ducks needed every one of his saves, as the Sharks controlled play from beginning to end. San Jose out-possessed Anaheim, posting a 57.89% corsi for percentage at even strength. In regulation, though, that territorial edge only led to one goal, and the Ducks tied the game against the run of play late in the second period after Chris Wagner buried a Martin Jones rebound.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said that the win was a “nice response” to the Sharks’ 3-0 loss to Detroit on Saturday. Playing their second game of the season at the SAP Center, and their first in nearly two weeks helped, according to Logan Couture.

“I think just getting back off that road trip [and] getting home is good for us,” Couture said. “You say it’s not tough, but it’s a tough road trip to start your year five out of six on the road, going to the east coast. It’s nice to get home.”

Time at home helped San Jose’s power play find the back of the net. Joe Pavelski opened the scoring in the first period with the extra man after he crashed the net and buried a rebound off of Patrick Marleau’s shot from the slot. It was the Sharks’ first power play goal in three games.

At even strength, the Sharks’ benefited from line changes DeBoer made at Monday’s practice. San Jose's third line was the only one the Ducks out-possessed when counting all shot-attempts. When looking at unblocked shots, Tomas Hertl was the only Shark in the red.

“It was one of those games where we needed everybody,” Joe Pavelski said.

They needed 60 minutes and then some to win, but that comes with the territory when an opposing goalie stands on his head as Gibson did tonight. Going forward, DeBoer sounded like he’d be happy with more of the same from San Jose.

“I liked our five-on-five game,” DeBoer said. “I thought we should have had more than one goal, but credit to them and their goalie. I thought he made some big saves. If we keep playing like that, [goals are] going to come.”