They say Nolan Ryan's fastball never really rose. It just appeared — or sounded — that way to the blinded batter. The puck that won Monday night's game, off the blade of Sheldon Souray, also seemed to reach a higher gear as it neared San Jose goalie Thomas Greiss. It whooshed past him with 6:39 left, and the Ducks moved on up to a 2-1 victory that leaves them 6-1-1 with one-sixth of this HO-scaled season already gone. Is it real or imaginary? The answer is (A) undetermined and (B) irrelevant. The points are real, as are victories over the Sharks, Kings and Canucks. "We feel we can beat any team in the league," said Souray, a 36-year-old free agent defenseman whom the Ducks signed to snipe from the point and to body up the top forwards in the West. "You've got to credit (Francois) Beauchemin for having the patience with the puck to find me," Souray said. "And then there are the guys in front of the net. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the goaltender makes that save if it's just me and him. I saw him move over a bit and it gave a side of the net to shoot at. "I really wanted to score that one because I'd had some chances before and hadn't done that. As long as guys aren't jumping in the way of my shot, I've got a chance. But credit the guys for standing there. I've hit a couple of guys already, and that's not fun." In four nights the Ducks have been visited by Minnesota, which made the deepest free-agent investments; the Kings, who were the last team standing last June; and the Sharks, who had not lost a game in regulation all year and had the hottest line in the league. They won all those games. And Monday was far different from Saturday, when they simply outscored the Kings. This time they had to overcome their own sluggishness and they rode goaltender Viktor Fasth, who, like Souray's bomb, started strong and kept rising.