Call it an All-Star Game hangover or merely an "off night." For whatever reason, the Jonas Hiller who started Wednesday for the Ducks didn't resemble the same goalie who played so spectacularly for most of the season's first half.

Hiller allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled 11 minutes, 15 seconds into an eventual 4-3 win for the San Jose Sharks in front of an announced crowd of 14,486 at Honda Center.

"I didn't feel as good as I wish I would," Hiller said after his shortest start of the season, "but things like that happen."

By racing out to a 3-0 lead, the Sharks grabbed momentum and almost cruised to the victory. The Ducks rallied behind backup goalie Curtis McElhinney and goals by Joffrey Lupul, Cam Fowler and Bobby Ryan to make it a game by the third period. But the early hole was too big to climb out of.

Both Pacific Division foes have 60 points, tied for fifth in a packed Western Conference. Five points separate fourth through 12 th place, with the Ducks (28-21-4) and San Jose (27-20-6) lodged in the middle.

The Sharks have one game in hand and had the advantage of playing, and beating, the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in San Jose. The Ducks hadn't played a game in eight days and it showed from the drop of the puck.

Joe Thornton won the opening draw and set up Dany Heatley for a second-chance goal 14 seconds into the game. Ben Eager, more of a fighter than a scorer, buried a long wrist shot into the top of the net at 7:34. After Demers dialed long distance for his goal at 11:15, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle inserted McElhinney into a game for the first time since Jan. 16.

"I think the first shift was a worst-case scenario," Carlyle said. "It was a situation where you get scored on in your own building - and we didn't seem to be, from an execution standpoint, we were behind. Then later in the game we got it going, but we still weren't sharp with some of the decisions with the puck.

"We didn't play very well tonight. The (final) score was flattering from my standpoint."

Lupul's wrister at 5:44 of the second period was the Ducks' first goal against Antti Niemi (27 saves) and Lupul's first goal since Dec. 28.