Hockey is a team sport and there is nothing better to teammates that when one of their own breaks out of a slump. That was the case in Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 win against Edmonton as Devin Setoguchi exploded for two goals to help propel the Sharks to victory.
The nine-game goalless streak had been long enough so long that Setoguchi reverted to an old trick that worked in juniors. He had his hair cut down so the scalp was clearly visible. The irony is he had the exact same success Saturday that he did back in Saskatoon.
“I did it in junior when I was 18 and had a scoring (slump),” said Setoguchi. “I scored two goals that night.”
Setoguchi got the haircut on Friday, but did not do it himself.
“Torrey’s girlfriend cut it for me,” said Setoguchi.
Setoguchi’s first goal was a shot from the hashmarks that went in thanks to some bodies moving in front.
“I’ve been trying to get to the net and get shots,” said Setoguchi. “I felt on the first one Clowe went to the net with traffic. I wasn’t sure if it went in or not, but it’s nice to contribute.”
Hair aside, the victory was sweeter as, in addition to the first line scoring twice, there was offensive production in other areas.
“Especially since it came from Seto,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He was on his toes and found a way to contribute.”
McLellan noted the goals had more to do with Setoguchi’s head than his hair, or lack there of.
“He cleared his mind,” said McLellan. “Everyone has been trying to help the guy.”
SOMETIMES IT’S BETTER TO RECEIVE
San Jose’s fourth goal came courtesy of a tape-to-tape pass. Joe Thornton
was part of the play but he was the recipient of a perfect pass across the crease from Douglas Murray
“We always new he had some skills,” said Thornton. “We’ve been toying around to find each other in practice.”
Murray joked that the practice finally paid off.
“It took me five years to find him and it’s about time,” laughed Murray.
Murray said it wouldn’t be above him to cut his long locks some time as Setoguchi did, but it wouldn’t be for scoring reasons.
“I’ve been close a few times,” said Murray. “I’ll probably come up with some stupid excuse.”
The Edmonton Oilers are simply struggling at this point of the season and they sit in last place in the Western Conference, but that is exactly the type of opponent that teams get caught relaxing against sometimes. That was not the case Saturday.
“We know the odds were in our favor, but you still have to go out and produce,” said Thornton. “We didn’t look past them.”
Rarely used netminders Thomas Greiss
and Devan Dubnyk got the starts for their teams and the two had combined for just 14 starts previously. Greiss knows that he will go multiple games between starts, but he shows up ready when called upon and improved his record to 5-3-0 on the season.
He enjoyed the defensive assistance he was provided on the day.
“I think the team played very well,” said Greiss.
The highlight of the contest from the goalie’s perspective was when Greiss came out to challenge for a loose puck and was able to stop the shot attempt. Greiss may not have arrived first to the loose puck, but he did his job.
“I just played the puck and didn’t really think on it,” said Greiss about his attacking style on the play.
Greiss earned the praise of his head coach for the day’s work.
“Thomas always seems to come up with a really big game,” said McLellan. “He’s worked hard and is prepared. He has the right to be confident.”
McLellan switched up three of his lines for the contest and it worked out well. Manny Malhotra played with Joe Pavelski
and Setoguchi, Ryane Clowe
played with Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer while Benn Ferriero
joined Torrey Mitchell
and Jody Shelley.
“The changes sparked a couple of lines,” said McLellan.
LEADING THE WAY
With his 32nd goal, Patrick Marleau
extended his league lead over Sidney Crosby (30) in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy. He also had an assist.
Thornton had a goal and an assist for day and leapfrogs Alexander Ovechkin for second place in the NHL overall in points (Thornton = 63; Ovechkin = 62). He trails only Henrik Sedin (64). He also extended his league lead with his 50th assist. Thornton is now tied with Owen Nolan for second in Sharks franchise history for career points (451).
KEEP IT GOING
Dany Heatley extended his point streak to six games with two assists (3-5=8). Heatley also has assists in three straight games (0-4=4).
The Sharks took 35 of 50 faceoffs (70%). Malhotra won all 12 of his draws for a perfect night.
EDMONTON OILERS HEAD COACH PAT QUINN:
“I thought they played hard. I mean, it’s a good team that we played against tonight. Early on we weren’t real good. By the end of the game it progressed and we picked it up. The first two goals weren’t beautiful. It (the first goal) was deflected in by Dubnyk on the crease pass on a bad angle power play goal.”
“We lost to a good team at the end.”
The Sharks will host Calgary in a 7 p.m. start on Monday and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.