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Ducks suffer steep fall from first but remain calm

Anaheim DucksSan Jose SharksBrent BurnsSt. Louis BluesFrederik Andersen

SAN JOSE -- Corey Perry saw an official’s key call go against him, watched the San Jose Sharks celebrate their first lead in the Pacific Division since Dec. 5 and witnessed the official collapse of what on Jan. 15 was a 13-point division lead.

At a moment to crumble, Perry found resolve.

“We’ve got a game in hand still, we win that, it's back even,” Perry said following the Ducks’ 3-2 loss to the Sharks at SAP Center. “It’s not over until it’s the last game of the season. We’re still pushing to be the No. 1 seed.”

The Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues have 101 points, San Jose (46-18-7) has 99 and the Ducks (45-18-7) 97.

“There’s a lot of hockey left,” San Jose Coach Todd McLellan agreed.

The Ducks are strongly positioned to win every standings tiebreaker over the Blues and Sharks but first need to return to winning.

They’re 4-4-2 since the Olympic break with center Ryan Getzlaf goal-less in that window, and they’ve lost four of six.

With just 12 games remaining, their good news is they start a nine-game stretch against
teams currently out of playoff position Sunday at the Honda Center against the Florida Panthers. Then, they reunite with the Sharks for what appears will be a huge April 9 showdown in Anaheim.

Perry said the Ducks actually gained some valuable wisdom about how to beat the Sharks, among those establishing a defensive-first mind-set early that worked to perfection until defenseman Luca Sbisa committed a head-scratching roughing penalty that set up a goal.

The Ducks have allowed a power-play goal in seven straight games.

Also, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau praised goalie Frederik Andersen, who had 25 saves but was
let down by turnovers and rebounds as a 2-1 early third-period lead was washed away.

Sharks center Joe Thornton had two assists and a goal, while Brent Burns beat Andersen with the winner with 3:59 left in the game.

Perry wanted a goal that officials disallowed with 5:41 remaining. A Ducks’ shot struck the top of the net behind San Jose goalie Antti Niemi, bounced down and went across the goal line.

But an official whistled that Perry committed a high stick -- he vowed he didn’t, which replays validated --  and the NHL then said it couldn’t review the play because of the whistle.

Instead of a 3-2 Ducks’ lead, Burns was the hero and McLellan took delight his team “rose to
the occasion.”

“Now that we’ve got a grasp of it, we can’t look back,” Sharks forward Tommy Wingels told
reporters.

The Ducks played without forward Matt Beleskey (sick), center Nick Bonino (foot) and defenseman Cam Fowler (knee).

They took comfort in that recent first-line addition Teemu Selanne scored a goal and drew two penalties, and that the 2-for-48 skid on the power play was answered by a Mathieu Perreault goal.

“They’re a good team, we’re a pretty good team, both going after something,” Boudreau said.

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Lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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