SAN JOSE -- Scott Hannan did what he was supposed to do Saturday night, block a shot.

Only the puck went directly to the stick of Boston Bruin center Carl Soderberg 15 feet in front of the San Jose net and he scored the game's only goal to defeat the Sharks 1-0.

"Basically what it came down to was a little bit of puck luck," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "A bounce went their way, went to their stick, and it didn't go to ours. Nothing we have to hang our heads over."

The game lived up to its billing as a showdown between two goalies who will be competing for the starting job on Team Finland in the Sochi Olympics with Boston goalie Tuukka Rask making 26 saves to earn the victory while Antti Niemi took the loss despite stopping 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

It marked San Jose's second tough loss this season to the Bruins, who handed the Sharks their first regulation defeat of the season Oct. 24 on a goal with 0.8 seconds left to play. San Jose dominated that game everywhere but the scoreboard, but Saturday night was a much more evenly matched contest.

The game's lone goal came at 12:25 of the third period when Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, playing in his first game after missing 15 because of a concussion, fired the puck from the right faceoff circle.

Hannan got in front of it, but the shot was just out of reach of defenseman Dan Boyle and instead went to Soderberg who got the shot off before Niemi could reposition himself.


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"I remember fighting for it in the corner and it was bouncing around on us," Boyle said. "I'm not sure how it got to the top but it's a bang-bang play. I don't know that there's anything different we could have done. It's a game of inches and it happened very quickly. That's just a good hockey play."

The Sharks had chances to tie the game after that -- the best coming at 15:25 when Brent Burns tried to jam the puck between Rask and the right post -- but Rask was up to the challenge.

The game was a physical one start to finish and evenly matched in that aspect of the game as well. The Bruins were credited with 28 hits, one more than San Jose.

"There were some battles, that's for sure," said Sharks forward Tommy Wingels, who had 10 of San Jose's 27 hits. "Both teams wanted possession of the puck, in certain areas of the ice. When both teams want that, guys are going to be physical and do all that they can to get the puck."

At time Wingels was up against Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the NHL's biggest player at 6-foot-9 and the Bruin who hammered Wingels high and hard in the first game this season.

Wingels said he wasn't intimidated by Chara's size.

"In those battles," Wingels said, "if he's part of it or any other guy, myself or one of the guys on my line, we're going to battle whoever is out there."

Both teams had good scoring chances through the first two periods.

San Jose's best came at 8:06 of the second when Joe Thornton had the puck behind the net, then slipped it to Joe Pavelski just to the right of Rask, but the Boston goalie was able to stop San Jose's hottest scorer.

Boston's came a little more than three minutes later with Hannan in the penalty box. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron threw a nice spin move at Niemi from the slot only to have his wrist shot at 13:11 hit the right post.

Niemi's best save of the night came less than a minute after Soderberg's goal when he dived in front of a backhand shot by Bruins forward Brad Marchand as he cut diagonally in front of the net.

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TUESDAY'S GAME
Sharks (28-12-6) at Washington (22-16-6), 4 p.m. CSNCA

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