ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks headed south on Monday for their second of three games with the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks in 10 days, and they found Goliath woozy, wobbly and gasping for air.
In a short season, finding teams in their valleys is key, and San Jose caught the scorching Ducks in a rare swoon, coming off back-to-back losses to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sharks had little problem kicking a team when it's down, dealing Anaheim a second straight early deficit and a third consecutive loss with a 5-3 win on Monday night at the Honda Center.
"We were rested and ready to play, aware of the opponent and how well they play at home," San Jose coach Todd McClellan said. "And aware of the standings. There are a lot of reasons we played hard."
San Jose, fighting for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs, knew it had to pounce on a reeling Anaheim squad, which has faltered after knocking off NHL-leading Chicago on March 20.
And pounce the Sharks did, bouncing the Ducks off their skates early and jolting them with a quick 2-0 lead.
A day after Detroit scored twice in the first period, San Jose delivered two goals less than two minutes apart just a few minutes into the game.
Defensemen Brent Burns put the Sharks ahead 1-0 less than seven minutes in, sweeping a wrist shot past Viktor Fasth at 5:46. Less than two minutes later, Joe Pavelski added his eighth goal of the season with a spinning wrist shot past Fasth.
"We didn't play our game for the first period and a half," Anaheim's Corey Perry said. "We didn't start well and it eventually caught up to us. We're not using any excuses. Yeah, we've got a lot of hockey games in a short amount of days, but everybody has that, no matter who it is. We've got to be ready to play a full 60 minutes."
For a team that has come from behind to win 14 times in their first 31 games -- the most since 1987-88 -- an early deficit was not a death sentence. Despite cutting the lead to one twice, Anaheim could not prevail and lost for the third time in five days.
Emerson Etem put the Ducks on the board with his second goal of the season at 8:16 of the second period and Francois Beauchemin added Anaheim's second goal early in the third period, smashing a one-timer off the post after assists from Ryan Getzlaf and Perry.
After a San Jose goal was negated with just over 12 minutes left, the Sharks added a fourth goal midway through the third period on a James Sheppard slap shot.
"It was huge," San Jose's Joe Thornton said. "For Sheppard to score, too, that's how we're going to win games, if everybody contributes. We've got four good lines, but sometimes the puck doesn't go in for some reason. So hopefully it will start going in for those guys."
Perry scored his 10th goal to bring Anaheim within a goal with less than two minutes left, but the Ducks could not tie the score despite a furious late attack. The Sharks added an empty-net goal by Dan Boyle.
"We didn't play well," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We haven't handled it very well. We knew that they were sitting here waiting and that they were going to come out in the first period. We knew all these things and we didn't come out and meet their push. Some things we have to address -- for some reason lately, they're not ready at the start of the game, and we have to figure out why."
NOTES: The Ducks signed right winger Radek Dvorak to a one-year contract on Sunday. ... Anaheim's Nick Bonino missed his eighth straight game with a lower-body injury. He remains listed as day to day. ... Anaheim's matchup with San Jose marked the end of a season-high five-game homestand. ... The Ducks have opened the season 2-1-1 against the Sharks, including a 5-3 win on March 18 in Anaheim. San Jose won the first game of the shortened season on Jan. 29, but Anaheim won the next two games. ... The two teams play again on March 27 in San Jose. ... The Ducks' back-to-back home games on Sunday and Monday mark the team's third this year and just their ninth in history. ... Anaheim's 48 points entering the game were third in the NHL behind Chicago (51) and Pittsburgh (50). ... McLellan became the second fastest in NHL history to reach 200 wins as a coach (333 games) earlier this year. Boudreau tops the category, however, reaching 200 wins in just 326 games. ... The Ducks have registered a point in 18 of their last 21 games, the best stretch in team history.