The San Jose Sharks didn't let a slow start keep them from closing in on another Pacific Division title
Devin Setoguchi scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 5:21 remaining and the San Jose Sharks rallied from an early two-goal deficit too beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.
Patrick Marleau scored twice and Dany Heatley added his 25th goal for the Sharks, who trailed 2-0 after one period before rallying for their seventh win in eight games. San Jose remained a point ahead of Detroit for second place in the Western Conference with four games remaining. They have reached the 100-point mark for the fifth consecutive season and can clinch the Pacific Division by beating Los Angeles at home Monday night.
"We were talking about how we worked so hard as of late to get back on top of our division," Setoguchi said. "Just to let it slip like that and have a bad period wasn't something we wanted to do. We worked so hard and it's so easy to fall right back into a hole. That was the talk we had and it worked."
Bobby Ryan and Lubomir Visnovsky scored in the opening period for the Ducks, who had won seven of eight to move into seventh place in the West. Despite the loss, Anaheim can clinch a playoff berth by winning two of its final four games. Ray Emery made 29 saves for the Ducks, but lost for the first time in seven starts this season.
"We're going to have to play a full 60 minutes against a team like that," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We were unable to do that tonight."
Setoguchi showed some patience on the game-winner as the Sharks put heavy pressure on Emery on their first power play. Setoguchi passed up a chance at a one-timer because he didn't have a clear path to the net, sending the puck to Dan Boyle at the point.
Boyle immediately returned the puck to Setoguchi, who rocketed a one-timer past Emery to give the Sharks the lead with his 21st goal. Setoguchi gave a big fist pump after the goal.
Marleau put the game away in the final minute with an empty-netter for his 37th goal of the season and 10th in eight games. Antti Niemi made 20 saves to get the win in his 33rd consecutive start.
This was a tense meeting between two rivals who could meet again in a little more than a week with a lot more at stake. If the season ended Saturday, these teams would open the playoffs against each other.
There were few good scoring chances early in the third, with no one wanting to make the mistake that could cost their team crucial points.
Heatley made a great end-to-end rush before being stopped by Emery. The Sharks couldn't knock in the rebound following a scramble in front but got their first power play when Jason Blake was called for holding with 6:22 remaining. That set up Setoguchi's goal.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was fuming after the game, angry about the call on Blake, and a no-call earlier in the third when Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray slammed Visnovsky into the boards with a hit that left Visnovsky with an upper-body injury. Visnovsky will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
"Blake has no helmet on, and (Ryane) Clowe hits him in the head with his stick. That's what starts it," Carlyle said. "Two players are kind of mugging one another and we come out of it with a disadvantage. So I felt it's a chicken call in a tight hockey game. ... And then Doug Murray takes a run at Visnovsky from halfway across the ice. I counted the steps, he took five steps, I just watched it. He comes halfway across the rink to run at the guy. But that's OK."
The Sharks responded from a lackluster first period to erase a two-goal deficit in the second and send the game into the third period tied at 2.
Heatley got San Jose started when he skated in from the boards and tried to center the puck. But the pass deflected, and Heatley knocked the loose puck past Emery with his backhand 2:01 into the second.
Marleau got the equalizer midway through the period with help from a puck that deflected off Ryan's face. Marleau took a whack at a centering pass from Boyle, and the puck hit Ryan, sending him to the ice. Setoguchi centered the loose puck back to Marleau, who stickhandled past Emery.
"It's that time of year right now where we have got to prepare them we have got to motivate them, but ultimately they need to decide how much of an input that have in each of the games and I thought they responded well in the second and third," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
After putting up a season-high 52 shots in a 6-0 win over Dallas on Thursday, the Sharks got only two on net in the first 18-plus minutes of this game.
The Ducks scored twice in that stretch, with the first coming from their top line when Ryan redirected a centering pass from Corey Perry into an open net just 3:21 in for his 34th goal. Visnovsky added a power-play goal midway through the period.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report