One fortuitous and timely bounce turned a game around for the Anaheim Ducks and resulted in the first regulation loss of the season for the San Jose Sharks.
Saku Koivu scored the tying goal early in the third period, defenseman Sheldon Souray netted the winner with 6:39 left, and rookie Viktor Fasth made 25 saves as the Ducks beat the Sharks 2-1 on Monday night.
"I think it just shows that we can compete with every team in the league," Souray said after the Ducks followed up a win over the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Saturday with another win. "San Jose is a great team. We played them hard last week up there and didn't get the result that we wanted. Tonight we had everybody going, and our goaltending was amazing.
"We're a work in progress. We want to get better and keep earning respect."
The Sharks, who won their first seven games before a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Saturday, lead the Pacific Division by two points over the Ducks. Fasth is the first Anaheim goalie to win his first three NHL starts.
San Jose's Thomas Greiss, returning to the site of his NHL debut back in January 2008, stopped Anaheim's first 24 shots as he nursed a 1-0 lead created by Logan Couture's first-period goal.
The tide turned in the third period when Sharks center Tommy Wingels attempted a clearing pass around the boards in his end, but didn't get the puck to defenseman Brad Stuart. It hit a rut at the base of the end boards and caromed straight into the slot, where Koivu backhanded it passed a stunned Greiss at 3:53.
"(Daniel) Winnik actually did the original forecheck and put pressure on their defense, so they had to throw the puck hard around the boards," Koivu said. "We tried to maintain that pressure, and out of nowhere, the puck just bounced onto my stick. I was pleasantly surprised. Those things don't happen very often, maybe once in a couple of years.
"When it happens against your team, you're cursing the boards. But we were happy about it."
Less than 4 1-2 minutes later, the Ducks received a two-man advantage. The Sharks killed the long 5-on-3 edge along with each of Anaheim's six power plays.
"We didn't grab the momentum, but it was a great kill," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We had a couple of chances to score there, too. It was just a good competitive game, but it's tough losing that way."
The Ducks took the lead on a slap shot from the left point by Souray that beat Greiss high to the glove side.
San Jose lost left wing Ryan Clowe for 17 minutes after he started a fight with Matt Beleskey at 11:20 of the first period. After the Sharks turned aside two Ducks power plays, Couture made it 1-0 with 1:52 left in the period.
Andrew Desjardins took a slap shot from outside the left circle, and Fasth made the save after the puck deflected off the stick of Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman. Couture pounced on the rebound and backhanded in a shot for his sixth goal in eight games.
Fasth, the backup to Jonas Hiller, was perfect after that.
"When you have two goaltenders that can pretty much give you a chance to win every night, it's a huge plus — especially when you have the schedule we have this year," Koivu said of the Ducks, who are about to start a six-game road trip.
"Going into the season, we didn't know what to expect from Viktor," he said. "But right now he's playing great. It really shows that he's more experienced and more mature. He's seen a lot of hockey in his life, although not in the NHL, but right now he's calm and confident and playing well for us."
Thornton set up Patrick Marleau at the left of the net with a perfect pass from the top of the right circle, but Fasth slid over at the last instant and robbed him with his blocker.
About a minute later, Greiss kicked out a sharp-angle wrist shot by Winnik from the right circle, and Andrew Cogliano had an open net on the rebound. But Sharks defenseman Jason Demers dove across and deflected the shot away with his stick.
NOTES: San Jose hasn't allowed a goal in 27 short-handed situations the past six games. Last season, the Sharks had the second-worst percentage in the NHL (76.9). ... Marleau hasn't scored in his nine games against Anaheim. ... Couture, the ninth pick in the 2007 draft, scored 61 goals over the previous two seasons. ... San Jose C Michal Handzus has no points in his first nine games, the 14-year veteran's longest drought from the start of a season. ... The Sharks' previous three games were decided by shootouts. They have never been tied at the end of regulation in four consecutive games. ... San Jose has allowed only eight goals in regulation over its last six games. ... The Ducks begin their trip Wednesday against Colorado. ... San Jose was 0 for 5 on the power play.