ANAHEIM -- A freak carom off the boards that ended up in the back of the Sharks net early in the third period might have been the turning point.
But anyone looking for what went wrong Monday night as the Sharks lost 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks for their first regulation defeat of the season should look elsewhere, according to players and coach Todd McLellan.
"It was a bad bounce -- that happens, there was nothing we could do to control it," McLellan said of the routine pass by Tommy Wingels that hit an odd spot in the Honda Center boards behind his own net and went straight to Ducks center Saku Koivu in front of the San Jose goal.
No, what ultimately did the Sharks in, McLellan said, was an 0-for-6 performance by the power play and an unnecessary icing that led to what proved to be Anaheim's game-winning goal by Ducks veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray.
Add it all together, and suddenly the idea of the Sharks running away with the Pacific Division in this shortened season seems like wishful thinking. The loss dropped the Sharks to a still impressive 7-1-1, but Anaheim is right behind San Jose at 6-1-1.
The lone Sharks goal Monday night was Logan Couture's sixth of the season and staked San Jose to a 1-0 lead. But it was the only one of 26 shots that would get past Anaheim netminder Viktor Fasth as both teams went with their nominal backups.
Thomas Greiss was starting to look close to invincible, having shut out the Colorado Avalanche in his only previous start Jan. 26, then keeping Anaheim off the board for the first two periods.
But in the third, he followed the expected route of Wingels' pass and could not recover in time to block Koivu's easy tap-in.
"If it comes out just a little bit off, but it was just straight out and the guy was right there, right on his tape," Greiss said. "If it takes a second longer ... "
Wingels acknowledged it was frustrating to have been involved in the play but said it was something "you've just got to forget about. Everyone responded the same way. It was unfortunate it happened, but the next shift or two were good from us. You've just got to put it behind you and try to move on."
There was still more than 16 minutes left to play, and the Sharks were doing more than a few things right.
They managed to kill off 1:36 of a two-man disadvantage, getting more scoring chances than Anaheim as San Jose stretched its streak of successful penalty kills to 27. After going without a shot for more than 10-minute stretches in each of the first two periods, the Sharks increased the pressure on Fasth.
But the next goal went to Anaheim, and McLellan cited an icing call as the root of the problem because it stranded the fourth line on the ice too long while Anaheim turned to its top line.
"We had transition all set up and we delivered a very poor pass, three feet in the air that ended up being icing," McLellan said. Two quick cross-ice passes later, Souray fired a blast through traffic that went into the San Jose net off Scott Gomez's stick at 13:21.
The Sharks would get one more power-play opportunity at 16:38, but it came up empty for a sixth time. After finding much success at the start of the season, San Jose's power play is now 1 for 18 over the past four games.
"We didn't get it done six times. Had every opportunity to put at least two up on the board and it didn't do its thing," McLellan said, both crediting the Ducks for blocking shooting lanes and noting that at times his own team is "getting too cute."
The Sharks don't have much time to let the sting of their first defeat linger, as San Jose is home to a rested Chicago Blackhawks team Tuesday night.
The Ducks were applying offensive pressure with less than eight minutes left when center Andrew Cogliano appeared to be firing a rebound into an open net. But Demers dived across the crease and got his blade on the puck, steering it away from its target.
"A lot happened really quick," Demers said. "I just kind of turned, saw him ready to shoot and tried to get everything I could in front of him. I got a piece of it with my stick."
Couture pointed to Boyle's absence as one reason the power play faltered.
"Obviously missing Boyler really hurts," he said. "You don't realize how much you miss him until he's not there. Hopefully we can get him back for tomorrow."
Chicago (7-0-2) at Sharks (7-1-1), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA