|Scott Niedermayer returned to the ice for the Ducks on Sunday night, but Anaheim fell to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout.
In the end, though, the defending champs didn’t provide enough offense.
Joe Thornton ended a six-round shootout when he snapped a shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere, as the San Jose Sharks finally solved the Ducks in the breakaway session with a 2-1 win over the Ducks at the Honda Center on Sunday night.
It marked the third time the teams have faced each other in the shootout this season, but Anaheim had come out on the winning end in the first two meetings.
''There are always really good games against Anaheim,'' Thornton said. ''Every game we come here or they come up to us, it's always an exciting, low-scoring game. We've been having a lot of shootouts against them, so it's nice to win this one.''
The story on this night, however, was the return of Niedermayer. The future Hall of Fame defenseman received 23:52 of ice time in his season debut and looked as if he had been playing all along. He finished with a plus-1 rating.
''I really didn't know what to expect, just probably play it by ear and see how I was feeling. If I was tired, I'd get off and change,'' the 34-year-old Niedermayer said.
Niedermayer, though, was thrilled to get back on the ice. He’ll continue the adjustment process on Tuesday night, when these teams meet again at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
"Getting that first one under your belt is always a big step," he said. "The next two games are back-to-back, so that will be another bit of a test. But it's all part of it, and I've just got to be smart and know what I'm comfortable with out there."
Anaheim jumped out to a 1-0 lead on rookie Bobby Ryan’s goal at the 13:41 mark of the opening period. Doug Weight, who was acquired in the deal that sent Andy McDonald to the St. Louis Blues, picked up an assist in his Anaheim debut. The tally also ended a 12-game streak that saw the Ducks give up the game’s opening goal.
"I ran out of steam a little bit," Weight said. "I was excited all night for two nights (after the trade) and I was excited all afternoon. I will get some rest tonight. I'll get my legs under me."
San Jose had a glorious opportunity to tie the game late in the first period when Milan Michalek was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down on a breakaway. But Giguere was up to the challenge, as the Ducks’ netminder didn’t give Michalek much room to shoot and made the stop.
Torrey Mitchell, however, tied things up for the Sharks when he scored shorthanded 5:13 into the second period. After gaining control of the puck from Ducks’ defenseman Mathieu Schneider, Mitchell was taken to his knees by Schneider before getting up and slipping a shot past Giguere to make it 1-1.
The teams exchanged goals in the extended shootout. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski scored for the Sharks early before Thornton won it in Round 6. Todd Bertuzzi and Corey Perry were able to beat Evgeni Nabokov, who finished with 30 saves.
"I think tonight was a game where we worked pretty hard and we did a lot of good things," Niedermayer said. "There were still maybe a few mistakes and a few lulls in our intensity. You can’t have that. We just have to keep working and trying to build to eliminate those things. We were right there. We had some opportunities to win this game. It’s a fine line when you’re playing a team like that."
It was also the type of game that Niedermayer thrives in. It was the type of game he wanted to be a part of in his return to the ice. And it’s the type of game Niedermayer believes will take place in San Jose on Tuesday night.
"This is exactly what I expected,” Niedermayer said. “It would have been great to win that game. I think we could have done that. It was an intense game and two pretty good teams playing hard. We get another opportunity in two days against them to get two points."
Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.