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Sharks

Sharks Take Big Lead Early, Hold Off Ducks

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Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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ANAHEIM (AP) — Dany Heatley scored 14 seconds in, Ryane Clowe had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks hung on to beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 Wednesday night for their second straight win after the All-Star break.

Ben Eager scored his first goal with his new team and Antti Niemi made 27 saves for the Sharks, who pulled even with Anaheim in the Western Conference standings. San Jose has won six of seven during the best stretch of the defending Pacific Division champions’ up-and-down season.

Jonas Hiller made an ugly return from his first All-Star game for Anaheim, getting pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots in the first 11:15.

Defenseman Jason Demers scored a rare goal during the Sharks’ three-goal first period. Yet one night after San Jose rallied from a three-goal deficit for a 5-3 win over Phoenix, the Sharks nearly blew a three-goal lead of their own.

All-Star Corey Perry had two assists for the Ducks, who lost for the fourth time in 14 games.

Joffrey Lupul, Cam Fowler and Bobby Ryan scored as the Ducks’ four-game home winning streak ended. Curtis McElhinney made 17 saves and picked up an assist in relief of Hiller for Anaheim, which will play six of its next seven on the road.

Anaheim climbed back into the playoff picture by winning eight of 11 during January, improbably thriving while captain Ryan Getzlaf is out with broken bones in his face.

But the Swiss goalie’s struggles against San Jose put the Ducks in a deep early hole. Hiller is 4-9 in his career against the Sharks.

After Heatley scored his 19th goal on the Sharks’ opening shift, Eager followed several minutes later with his first goal since Nov. 19, when he played for Atlanta. Demers then capitalized on an assist from Clowe, chasing Hiller with his second goal in 46 games this season.

Lupul scored the Ducks’ first goal early in the second period, but Clowe converted a long rebound on a power play for his 14th goal.

Fowler answered with a power-play goal on another rebound with 2:08 left in the second period. Ryan trimmed the Sharks’ lead to one goal with 14:24 to play, putting a wrist shot through traffic behind Niemi for his eighth goal in 10 games.

Anaheim had numerous chances in the final minutes, including several for former Sharks forward Teemu Selanne.

Notes: Sharks C Logan Couture missed his second straight game with an apparent case of the flu. San Jose’s top goal-scorer is among the favorites for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. … Getzlaf is expected back next week during the Ducks’ road trip through Western Canada. … The Ducks wore their third jerseys.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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