Sometimes, the losing team deserves a better fate. Such was the case tonight, as a questionable Sharks goal ultimately proved to be the difference on the scoreboard in a 4-2 Ducks loss at SAP Center.
With the game tied, 2-2, midway through the third period, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns scored to put the home team up by a goal. But seconds earlier, several Ducks reacted as if the puck hit the protective netting above the glass. Because the play was never whistled dead, the puck eventually found its way to Burns, whose goal held up as the game winner.
"We didn't agree with the call," said Kiefer Sherwood, who had one of the two goals for Anaheim tonight. "The puck went out. It is what it is. We have to find a way to respond."
The Ducks did a good job responding throughout the game, especially from the midway point on. They dictated the play, pushed the pace and had chance after chance when they were trailing by a goal late in the third period. But the Hockey Gods can be unforgiving at times, and the Ducks have nothing to show for except a fourth consecutive defeat.
The Ducks hit three posts tonight, four if you include Sharks goaltender Martin Jones nearly scoring into his own net on an attempted pass to his teammate. Ondrej Kase clanged one off the far side post with under two minutes remaining that would've tied the game, but moments later, Tomas Hertl scored into an empty net to put the game away. Adam Henrique, Daniel Sprong and Brandon Montour also caught iron.
Though a loss is a loss, Sherwood pointed out the positives. "We're playing simple. When we're doing that, we're at our best. If we can continue to be simple, we can get out of our skid here soon."
The Ducks didn't come away unscathed. Goaltender John Gibson exited the game after the first period with an upper-body injury and didn't return. No other update was given on the 25-year-old netminder, who made 15 saves on 16 shots in 20 minutes of work. Chad Johnson took over for the second and third periods and turned aside 20 of 22 shots.
The Ducks held a lead briefly in the first period when Jakob Silfverberg scored on the power play for the game's opening goal. But the Sharks answered with 1:55 left in the period when Melker Karlsson buried a loose puck behind Gibson for his fourth goal of the season.
Video: ANA@SJS: Silfverberg tucks puck by Jones for PPG
The Sharks struck again just 5:44 into the second period when Marcus Sorensen banged home a rebound that laid in the crease after Joe Pavelski took the initial shot in the slot. The Ducks challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice stood.
Sherwood knotted the game at two goals apiece at the 3:53 mark of the third when he unloaded a wrist shot between the dots that caught a piece of Jones before crossing the stripe. It marked Sherwood's fifth goal and 10th point of the season.
Video: ANA@SJS: Sherwood beats Jones from the slot
Burns gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead with 9:39 remaining in regulation and Hertl's empty-net goal gave them a two-goal cushion with 23 seconds left in the game. The victory snapped San Jose's three-game losing streak.
The Ducks will return to Orange County to open a season-long six-game homestand beginning Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.