SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks knew their franchise-record winning streak would end sometime, but that didn't make accepting Sunday's 3-1 setback to the San Jose Sharks any easier.
"It's something that doesn't happen often," Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler said of the club-record, 10-game run. "You're playing against the best in the world, and you've got to be proud of that. You're going to lose one eventually. But we've lost one in a row, and that's the way we have to look at it."
San Jose center Bracken Kearns scored his first career goal, center Logan Couture tallied the 100th of his career and goalie Antti Niemi was on top of his game, stopping 30 of 31 shots, to give the Sharks a key win in the opener of a home-and-home series against Anaheim.
"It's a huge two games," said center Joe Thornton, the Sharks' captain. "They are kind of running away with our division right now, and we brought them back a little bit. It's going to be another huge game on Tuesday."
The Sharks (25-8-6) jumped on Anaheim early as Brent Burns scored his 12th goal 77 seconds after the opening faceoff. Couture followed with his first in 12 games at 10:07 in the first period.
"We knew they would come fast in the first, but I guess we weren't prepared for that," said Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, who made 20 saves. "That's all on us. We have to be ready from the start to beat them here."
The Sharks weathered a couple of extended Anaheim cycles in the second period, needing to use their timeout after one icing call, but they reached the second intermission with a 3-0 lead thanks to a milestone goal from Kearns.
"I think falling behind by three was the (biggest) one," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When you're down by two and you have two periods, all you have to do is win each period. Simplify it and make the task easier."
San Jose center Andrew Desjardins drove the left wing and attempted a wrap-around after briefly losing control. The rebound went into the slot, where Kearns crashed to become the oldest Shark to score his first in the NHL --32 years, 231 days.
Kearns was recalled from the minor leagues before the game.
"I don't know how many organizations would give a 32-year-old an opportunity like they've given me," Kearns said. "You keep working at it, setting your goals high. I've dreamt about scoring in the NHL when I was a kid."
Kearns' previous NHL exposure consisted of five games with the Florida Panthers in 2011-12. After that season, he signed as a free agent with the Sharks, knowing it would be a long road to get back to the NHL.
Kearns' previous pro stops included Toledo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Reading, San Antonio and Worcester as he saw time in the East Coast Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
"It's a great story, isn't it?" Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's great for him, but there also is a lesson about persevering. He's done that. Even this year, there were times he could have been dejected about not being the guy coming up. He left his mark on the game and the team tonight."
Niemi was denied his 26th career shutout at 11:32 of the final period when Ducks left winger Patrick Maroon scored his third goal of the season on a setup by right winger Corey Perry.
"To a man, I thought everyone left what they had on the ice," McLellan said. "They're a pretty good hockey club. We hung in there to the end and got the points we needed."
NOTES: The Sharks lost RW Tommy Wingels to an apparent leg injury inside the first two minutes of the game. ... San Jose tied a franchise record with 30 blocked shots and won 40 of 63 faceoffs. ... D Scott Hannan and C John McCarthy were healthy scratches for San Jose, which remains without RW Martin Havlat (lower body), LW Tomas Hertl (knee), RW Raffi Torres (knee) and RW Adam Burish (back). ... The Ducks continue to miss D Sheldon Souray (wrist), D Luca Sbisa (hand) and G Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation). Anaheim did not dress LW Matt Beleskey, D Sami Vatanen and RW Teemu Selanne, who did not travel for the second night of back-to-back games.