Sharks try to halt surging Ducks' momentum

It took the San Jose Sharks two weeks to lose their first game of the season, but they are still just a regulation loss away from owning only a two-point lead atop the Pacific Division.

The Sharks will try to prevent the Anaheim Ducks from cutting into that advantage on Monday night when the two clubs clash for the second time this season.

San Jose opened the shortened campaign red-hot, winning seven straight prior to Saturday's 2-1 shootout setback to the Nashville Predators. It marked the Sharks' third straight shootout game as they had bested Anaheim and Edmonton in the breakaway session last week.

They weren't as lucky on Saturday as the Preds' Craig Smith beat Antti Niemi in the second round. Joe Pavelski then failed to extend the game as his attempt was halted by Pekka Rinne.

Martin Havlat scored in regulation for San Jose, converting on a power play in the third period with 6:21 on the clock, while Niemi ended with 23 saves in the finale of a six-game homestand.

"They play good defense with great goaltending," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We had our chances. We just didn't bear down. It was just a good, hard- fought game."

The same could be said about when the Sharks hosted the Ducks last Tuesday, a game that San Jose's Logan Couture tied with 2:45 left in the third period to force extra time. Michal Handzus then scored the only shootout goal and Niemi ended with 28 saves in the 3-2 win.

It marked only the Sharks' second victory in their last eight against the Ducks and they have dropped five of their last seven trips to Anaheim.

That loss last week by the Ducks is part of their current 3-0-1 stretch, and at 5-1-1 on the season, they sit just four points behind the Sharks in the standings.

Anaheim won its second straight on Saturday, knocking off the Los Angeles Kings 7-4. Nick Bonino, who came into the game with just six goals in 91 career games, logged his first career hat trick and added an assist.

Bonino beat Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick twice in the first 5:49 of the game and potted one of the Ducks' three power-play markers at the 8:39 mark of the third period.

"It feels good. I can't really describe it," Bonino said. "I haven't scored a ton of goals in my career so far, so it feels real good to get three here."

Anaheim also got man-advantage tallies from Sheldon Souray and Kyle Palmieri. Bobby Ryan, Luca Sbisa and rookie Emerson Etem each collected two assists for the Ducks, while goaltender Jonas Hiller had 30 saves.

Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return to the game.