Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper

Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper
May 5, 2011, 2:47 am
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Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

DETROIT -- Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture spent a bit of the locker room time before the overtime period of San Joses 4-3 Game 3 win over Detroit bartering potential game-winning celebrations with each other.

Setoguchi won.

Well, if you really want to know, I looked over at Logan Couture and I said, 'You better get (the game-winning goal) before I do, because I've already got my celebration ready to go. Setoguchi said after beating Jimmy Howard for the third time, 9:21 into overtime.

And he said, 'So do I.' And I said, 'Well, I'm going to go pull the (Cristiano) Ronaldo double-knee.' And he said, 'That was mine.' So I said, 'Well, I'll try to beat you to it then.' So it was kind of weird that it happened that way.

But thats planning for you.

Right before we went on the ice, about four minutes before the overtime started. He said I stole his celebration.

Coutures lawyers will be in touch. So will a lot of other Sharks and their supporters who will acknowledge that Setoguchi poached his team through a game in which they werent really the better team the majority of the time.

Nobody remembers the celebration though, not even Ronaldo himself, if that helps. Setoguchi was kissed by God on this night, to the point where he could simply come on the ice and head for a soft spot on the Red Wings defensive coverage and have the puck magically appear on his tape.

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Which is exactly how he scored the game-winner and put the Sharks within a game of sweeping the Red Wings and within three games of scaring themselves half to death. He found an open place, Joe Thornton, who had done the heavy work carrying and chipping and retrieving the puck through all three zones, found him, and he beat the Detroit goalie low and clean.

I saw Jumbo curl up the wall. Usually when he does that, he always looks to the middle for the quick pop play and for the shot, and I got it. (Wing center Henrik) Zetterberg was in the slot, just kind of right there, so I just tried to get it through his legs or by him quickly, and snuck one right past him (Howard).

I dont know why it happens that way sometimes, he said. Sometimes you work and work and things just sort of happen for you.

Also to you, for Setoguchi also committed two harrowing holding penalties, one which led to Pavel Datsyuks go-ahead goal in the third period, and the other, in overtime, which almost buried the Sharks.

Yeah, Ill talk to him about that, said a clearly torn head coach Todd McLellan.

But he will remember to thank Setoguchi as well for helping the Sharks cheat the reaper on a night that was more Detroits than San Joses.

A year to the day of last years overtime victory that put the Sharks up 3-0 on the Wings, San Jose endured an up-and-down evening which, without Antti Niemis best game as the Sharks goalie, might have gotten them chased from the building.

Detroit controlled the first and large chunks of the first two periods, getting goals from Nicklas Lidstrom, Patrick Eaves and Datsyuk to tie the game at 1 and take 2-1 and 3-2 leads. In fact, McLellan was more unhappy with the play than the result, a lot more unhappy.

(Game 4) will be as hard on us as we make it. We didnt have a lot of polish, we didnt have enough better players in my opinion to play. We got away with one. We have to be better, because theyve proven they are not going to go away.

Of course, McLellan is also seeing Game 4 a year ago, in which the Sharks smugged their way through a 7-1 defeat that cost them a fifth game, one that this year is not really recommended, given the parity and trouble teams have had finishing series -- Tampa Bay notwithstanding.

Then again, he may also take time to notice that Thornton has been instrumental in four of the five overtime winners the Sharks have logged so far in this postseason. The NHL has had 20 overtime games so far, the second round isnt done yet, and the record is 28. San Jose has 25 percent of those wins, and zero percent of those losses. The persistent complaint that Thornton doesnt come up big in the spring has been de-legged, at least insofar as this truth: Thornton may not come up big, but he does come up subtle.

Setoguchi, on the other hand, is flash on flash. At least he was this night. If he can steal from Logan Couture and Cristiano Ronaldo on the same evening, the two holding penalties seem like barely a trifle.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.