San Jose and Anaheim, the two top teams in the Pacific Division, battled it out on Saturday and in the end, San Jose came out on top in shootout. Barely.
Both teams were playing the second of back to back games, but they had plenty of energy for each other.
Corey Perry put the Ducks on the board first at 5:56 of the first period. The Ducks were able to take that lead into the locker room, something Sharks opponents have not had much chance to do this season.
The Sharks tied up the game in the second period at 4:16 with a goal from Logan Couture. A power play gave the Ducks the chance to get back the lead until Jonas Hiller made a serious fumble.
Hiller came way out of the net with the intent to clear the puck. He did. Right into the middle of the ice and into the path of an on-coming Sharks player. Unless he was the proud owner of an instant transporter, Hiller had no chance of getting back into net. Patrick Marleau was credited with the exceptionally easy short handed goal at 10:13 and San Jose had their first lead.
"I don't know if it was a turning point," said Hiller, who made 32 saves. "Sure it's a tough goal to give up. I don't know if I missed it or if the puck just jumped when I wanted to play it. It's a tough one."
San Jose extended the lead to 3-1 late in the period when Martin Havlat put another puck behind Hiller at 19:03.
The Ducks refused to give up and continued to persevere in the third period.
Defenseman Alex Grant, called up from Norfolk due to an injury depleted blue line, got his first goal in his first ever NHL game at 12:50.
"I was just trailing [Nick] Bonino and he made a nice pass," said said. "I wanted to get it off quick and on net, and it went in. I had 11 friends and family in the seats tonight. It was unbelievable. I can just imagine how they’re feeling."
With the Ducks now within one goal, they were further energized. Their hard work was rewarded when Ben Lovejoy got another one past Antti Niemi at 16:54 to tie up the game.
"We said between periods that if we get one [goal], we’ll get two," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "We were right there. They had a 3-1 lead, but it’s still within the distance where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When Alex Grant scored, I thought there was a really good chance we’d tie it. I thought we were going to win it in regulation because the adrenaline was flowing pretty good."
The Ducks came close in regulation and again in the overtime period, but Niemi would not yield anything else.
Niemi, who made 28 saves in the game, was perfect in the shootout, stopping Perry, Bonino and Kyle Palmieri.
Hiller only allowed one goal from Joe Pavelski, an odd one that was in question for its legitimacy as Pavelski turned on the brakes and appeared to stop in front of Hiller before resuming and shooting the puck.
"It's not a vague rule, but it's a weird rule," said Boudreau. "You are allowed to stop, but the puck is not allowed to stop. He came to a dead stop, but they OK'd it in Toronto, and they get to watch it on replay, so I guess the puck didn't stop it's forward motion."
The goal was good and it was enough to give the Sharks the extra point and the edge in the Pacific Division.
"I think it was a great effort to come back in the third," said Hiller. "But its tough that we couldn't win it."
The Ducks have a couple days of rest before meeting up with the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday for the first time this season.
In other notes: Teemu Selanne earned a rest day and did not even travel with the team to San Jose after playing the day before against Calgary.