Ducks right wing Bobby Ryan dives for the puck as Sharks center Patrick Marleau… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
Optimistic and pessimistic feelings were present in the Ducks dressing room.
It was optimistic because the Ducks played the San Jose Sharks, who entered Saturday's game with a league-leading 34 points, with an energy level that Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle described as "high."
It was pessimistic because the Ducks still lost, 3-2, at the Honda Center.
"In our situation, we can't afford to make those mistakes because they seem to be going against us," Carlyle said. "We have to persevere."
That didn't happen Saturday, marking the 11th loss in 15 games for the Ducks' (7-11-3), who have lost four consecutive home games to the Sharks.
The loss came down to what winger Ryan Getzlaf called "little mistakes that cost us in the end."
Little mistakes like this: After Ducks winger Teemu Selanne was penalized for hooking at 6:43 in the third period, Ducks center Todd Marchant took off on a breakway. He broke to the right side of the goal in front of San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, but his shot went wide of the right post.
Six seconds after Selanne's penalty expired, San Jose center Joe Thornton received a pass from winger Dany Heatley before beating Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller from the middle of the left circle at 4:43 for the 3-2 lead. Hiller said the puck "slightly hit me." Carlyle agreed, saying the puck "deflected past the goaltender."
"I was ready for the shot, but Heatley passed it to the side and Thornton one timed it," said Hiller, who had 33 saves. "He got a good shot off there."
The Ducks also had plenty of good shots, 28 of them stopped by Nabokov. The Ducks finished two for four on their power play, but had a one-of-three effort in penalty killing. After a scoreless first period, the Ducks took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Defenseman James Wisniewski, who returned after missing part of the Tampa Bay game because of a bruised foot, rifled a shot from the blue line past Nabokov at 1:20 for the 1-0 lead.
San Jose answered with winger Ryane Clowe firing a long-distance shot at 8:08 to tie the game at 1-1. Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney was then called for a cross-checking penalty at 10:12.
Heatley, who entered tonight's game with a league-leading 17 goals, made the Ducks pay with a power-play goal off a pass from Thornton at 10:54 for the 2-1 lead.
Luckily for the Ducks, Whitney answered with a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 19:46, to tie it at 2-2. But the Ducks couldn't retake the lead in a game that also featured a mixed bag on the injury front.
Center Saku Koivu (groin muscle) returned after missing five games and defenseman Steve Eminger (back spasms) returned after missing one. But center Ryan Carter (bruised foot) is expected to miss at least four more weeks after a second X-ray revealed a fracture in his right foot. Then there's winger Joffrey Lupul, who sat out because of tightness in his lower body.
For now, the Ducks have to absorb what has become all too common this season. Another loss.
"We played hard enough and deserved to win, but we've got to execute better," Whitney said. "It seems like . . . things are going against us. We have to find a way to switch it ourselves. We need to start getting points."