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Setoguchi saves Sharks with late goal

by Brian Hunter
The San Jose Sharks hope life without Joe Thornton won't last very long. For at least one night, they managed alright without their leading scorer.

Devin Setoguchi scored a power-play goal and added the game-winner with 5:49 remaining, and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 42 shots as the Sharks edged the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Sunday night at HP Pavilion, extending their lead atop the Western Conference to four points over Pacific Division rival Phoenix.

Jed Ortmeyer and Dan Boyle also scored for San Jose, which has won four straight following a six-game losing streak. It was the 100th regular-season win for coach Todd McLellan, who became only the fourth coach in NHL history to accomplish that feat in his first two seasons.

"Coming out into the third we made a conscious decision that it was going to be really important that we compete," he said. "I thought we were able to keep up with them."

Peter Mueller had a two-goal game and Kevin Porter also scored for Colorado, which has slipped to eighth in the Western Conference and leads ninth-place Calgary by only four points. Craig Anderson finished with 28 saves.

"We came up a little short," coach Joe Sacco said. "I think if we play like we did tonight down the stretch here, we'll be fine. That's how we have to play, with that desperation. It's a word that's overused this time of the year but it's true. You could see our guys tonight for the most part were desperate, and we just have to keep battling."

For now, the Sharks are battling without the services of Thornton, who suffered a lower-body injury after being hit by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler in Saturday's game. McLellan termed him day-to-day on Sunday.

Thornton, whose 66 assists are second in the League and 85 points are seventh, had set a franchise record with 379 consecutive games played. He had an overall iron-man streak of 398 games dating back to October of 2005 when he was still with Boston.

"All year we've been pretty fortunate with injuries, but the odd guys miss some games here and there and the rest of your best step up," said Dany Heatley, who assisted on the game's opening goal by Setoguchi.

The third-year forward didn't even need his stick to notch the go-ahead score, as a drive by Joe Pavelski ricocheted off his shin and got behind Anderson.

"With Jumbo out we need some secondary scoring," Setoguchi said. "I know that's my job and it was good to get a couple tonight and get on the board for us."

Boyle put the Sharks ahead 3-2 at 4:32 of the third when his attempted pass to Pavelski caromed in off Avalanche defenseman Ruslan Salei, but the visitors drew even at 9:03 as Mueller scored his second of the game with a slap shot that beat Greiss through the pads.

"For a young man that doesn't play on a regular basis, and he knows that by now, I thought he made some really good saves," McLellan said. "There's probably moments in the game where the fact that he hasn't played in about two weeks showed, but I thought he had carried himself better and handled himself well than he did the past night against Florida, so a step in the right direction for him and nice to see him get the win."

Setoguchi's power-play goal at 10:51 of the first period got the Sharks on the board first, but the Avalanche grabbed the lead in the second.

Porter scored his second of the season at 1:20 when he tapped in the rebound of a Cody McLeod shot. Mueller put Colorado ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at the 12:42 mark.

San Jose evened the score before the second intermission as Ortmeyer converted the rebound of a Logan Couture shot and scored his first goal since Jan. 23.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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