Travis Moen's second goal capped a four-goal second period, and the Ducks survived a third period meltdown to beat the Sharks 7-4 on Tuesday night. San Jose hoped to sweep the two games to move into first place in the Pacific Division, but now needs a win Wednesday night in Anaheim just to remain within three points of the Ducks.
"We knew this was a huge two games for us," said Rob Niedermayer, who had a goal and two assists. "It doesn't mean much unless we follow it up with a big game tomorrow. Everything is so tight in our division. Every game seems huge, even now. We know it's a big one tomorrow."
There was a lot more distance between the teams in the first two periods as the Ducks scored two goals within 32 seconds in the opening period and used the four-goal outburst in the second to take a 6-1 lead.
The Ducks had their full roster healthy for the first time since December and played about as well as they have recently in the first two periods before allowing three goals in the third.
"We played well for 40 minutes and that's the bottom line," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't do enough for 60, but we were fortunate tonight that we had a big enough lead."
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere injured his groin in Anaheim's last trip to the Shark Tank on Dec. 26, which helped San Jose close a 12-point gap in the division to three. The Ducks won just twice in the 11 games Giguere missed, but have won three of four since his return.
He had 34 saves against the Sharks, allowing a pair of third-period goals to Jonathan Cheechoo that helped make the final margin respectable for San Jose.
"We came out and we very excited about this game," Giguere said. "We have two big games against these guys. ... The key was every time we had a scoring chance we put it in. That's important."
Mike Grier and Patrick Marleau also scored for the Sharks, who allowed the most goals they had all season at home. San Jose has won just once in its last five games.
"At least in the third period we recovered some pride and we played hard and got rewarded," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "We have something to build on for tomorrow night."
The Ducks got off to a fast start when Moen and Samuel Pahlsson teamed up midway through the first period to help Anaheim score twice in less than a minute. After Pahlsson won a faceoff in the defensive zone from Marcel Goc, Moen took the puck up ice and passed to himself off the boards to get past Marc-Edouard Vlasic and beat Vesa Toskala with a wrist shot.
Pahlsson beat Toskala just 32 seconds later, using a screen by Moen to beat Toskala with a wrist shot that made it 2-0 at the 13:48 mark.
Grier's goal late in the first period made it close for a while, but Anaheim broke it open in a dominating second period.
About the only positive for Sharks fans in the period came when Scott Parker landed a good shot during a fight with George Parros. But less than two minutes after the players were penalized for fighting, Andy McDonald one-timed a cross-ice pass from Chris Kunitz to make it 3-1.
A bad giveaway in the defensive zone by Matt Carle gave Rob Niedermayer the puck alone in front of the net and he converted to make it 4-1 at the 11:51 mark.
Cheechoo tried to get the Sharks back in the game, but Pahlsson cleared his wraparound attempt off the goal line and the Ducks came right back and got a goal from Dustin Penner to make it 5-1.
Moen capped the big period when he drove home a pass from Scott Niedermayer while being pulled down by Rob Davison, giving him his second multigoal game in his career.
"It seemed like any time we had a breakdown, they buried it," Marleau said. "We need to redeem ourselves tomorrow. We squandered an opportunity, but we've got another chance."
Notes: Giguere is 14-3 in his last 18 starts. ... Toskala had allowed only 17 goals his last 10 games before giving up six to Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf scored the seventh on an empty-netter. ... Anaheim D Chris Pronger was booed every time he handled the puck. ... The Sharks activated D Kyle McLaren and placed C Joe Pavelski on the injured list with a foot injury retroactive to Jan. 30.