SAN JOSE -- The Sharks had just ended the NHL season's longest winning streak at 10 games with a well-deserved 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

Afterward, though, even that was overshadowed by the individual accomplishments along the way.

Logan Couture ended an 11-game goal drought with his first since Dec. 3 and 100th of his NHL career, but it was San Jose's next one that got everybody's attention. At age 32 and in just his eighth regular-season game, career minor leaguer Bracken Kearns scored his first NHL goal.

"It was amazing, absolutely amazing," said Kearns, who was called up from Worcester the previous day to help shore up the Sharks' injury-depleted forward ranks. "It felt so good."

The significance of the moment that Kearns fired in a rebound at 9:16 of the second period to give San Jose a 3-0 lead was not lost on Sharks coach Todd McLellan.

"It's a great story, isn't it?" he said. "It's great for him, but there's also a lesson in it about believing in yourself and persevering."

Brent Burns also scored for San Jose, and Ducks forward Patrick Maroon ruined Antti Niemi's bid for a shutout with 8:28 left in the third period. Niemi did make 30 saves to earn his 21st victory of the season, while Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen saw his record dip to 9-2.

Kearns spent seven seasons in the minors before playing his first NHL game at age 30 with the Florida Panthers on Oct. 20, 2011. The son of longtime Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dennis Kearns, he was at the right spot at the right time when Andrew Desjardins' wraparound attempt popped in front of the net.

And, yes, Kearns -- who became the oldest player to score his first NHL goal as a Shark -- said his eyes widened in anticipation.

"Big time, big time," he said. "I was coming from the bench. It was just one of those pucks that squirt out like that. Just amazing."

Kearns did play in all seven playoff games against the Los Angeles Kings last spring and said before the game that gave him confidence coming back to San Jose. And he wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

San Jose applied pressure right from the start and had three shots on net and two others blocked in the game's first 76 seconds. An instant later, Joe Pavelski fed Burns from behind the net, and his one-timer from the slot gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 1:17.

Then at 10:07, nearly a month of frustration for Couture ended when he got the puck in the neutral zone, turned Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin inside out and lifted a 10-foot backhand over Andersen.

"If I didn't score that, I would have been really upset with myself," said Couture, who acknowledged that scoring 100 goals was a special milestone.

"It's a big number. I was stuck on 99 for a while. ... It will be one I remember."

Not all went well for the Sharks, however, as they had to play most of the game without Tommy Wingels, who suffered an upper-body injury when he was hit by Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric at 1:34 of the first period and returned for only one more shift.

It was the first of two consecutive games between the teams atop the Pacific Division. Anaheim had opened up a seven-point lead over San Jose, but the gap is now five with the Sharks having played two fewer games.

"A huge two games," Joe Thornton said. "They're kind of running away with our division right now, and tonight we kind of grabbed them and brought them back a little bit."

  • Raffi Torres said rehab work on his right knee is progressing, though soreness is still a problem after some of his on-ice workouts.

    And while there has been speculation that Torres could be back in the lineup after the February Olympic break, he is still not setting any target date for his return.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

    Tuesday's game
    Sharks (25-8-6) at Anaheim (28-8-5), 5 p.m. CSNCA