Found January 11, 2012 on
Fox Sports North:
San Jose Sharks
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi missed a month with a knee injury, but he returned to the ice last week and played well in his first two games back.
On Tuesday, however, Setoguchi was a healthy scratch for Minnesota's 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks. Not for performance reasons -- Setoguchi had nine total shots on goal and an assist in his first two games back from injury -- but for disciplinary reasons.
After Minnesota's victory, Wild head coach Mike Yeo would only say that Setoguchi was scratched because of a "violation of a team rule" but wouldn't elaborate on what that was.
"It's not an easy decision, especially how valuable he is to our team," Yeo said of benching Setoguchi. "The thing is we all have to be held accountable. But with that, this is still a guy that cares very much and is still a good person and still a very big part of our team. So come tomorrow, it's a clean slate."
Setoguchi was acquired from the Sharks this offseason, but he wasn't on the ice Tuesday when his former team came to town. Setoguchi scored 20 or more goals in his past three seasons with San Jose. Prior to Tuesday, Setoguchi had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 30 games.
Yet with the Wild struggling offensively -- their 2.2 goals per game before Tuesday was second-fewest in the NHL -- Yeo sacrificed Setoguchi's offense to send a message. Defenseman Marco Scandella was also recently sent down to Minnesota's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, due to on-ice struggles -- Scandella is currently a team-worst minus-10 in 37 games.
Yeo's message Tuesday was well-received in the locker room.
"He makes the calls. He's the boss," said goalie Josh Harding, who stopped 34 shots to earn the win. "Whatever he decides, that's what we're going to do. Even without those messages, I think the team knew that we need to respond. We need to get out of this funk. I thought we did that tonight."
Indeed, Tuesday's win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Wild, who have now won just twice in their last 13 games. For a team that once held the best record in the NHL, Minnesota was fading fast and needed to stop the bleeding.
"It's getting to crunch time. We've got to do what we can to field the best team out there where we can win games," said defenseman Justin Falk, who had two assists in Tuesday's win. "It's all about getting wins this time of year now."
Yeo is trying to leave his mark as the Wild's first-year coach. Scratching Setoguchi for violating a team rule is a start.
"We're just trying to build a culture here where our standards are higher than everybody else's," Yeo said. "With that, tomorrow is a new day. It's not something that I'm going to sit here and dwell upon because I think the bigger story is about our game."
Without Setoguchi and winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard -- who is out again with concussion symptoms -- Minnesota needed offense from other outlets against San Jose. Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Cullen each scored their 11th goals of the season, but the Wild also got goals from unlikely sources in Warren Peters and Nick Johnson.
Peters was credited with the Wild's first goal of the second period when he deflected a Falk shot past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. It was Peters' first goal in 21 games this season and gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
Johnson netted his fifth goal of the season on a wrister that beat Niemi glove side. It was Johnson's first goal in 16 games and gave Minnesota a 3-1 cushion at the 7:42 mark in the third period.
The Wild also got contributions from Casey Wellman (two assists) and center David McIntyre, who notched his first career point in just his third NHL game when he assisted on Peters' second-period goal.
In fact, six of the Wild's 12 points in Tuesday's win came from players who were not on Minnesota's opening-day roster.
"You need that, for sure," Yeo said. "It's hard to sit here and talk just about those guys because from our goaltender to our defensemen, I was happy with everybody's game out there today. But you need guys to step up and fill roles. We have guys out right now. The biggest thing is the way that they did it leads me to believe that they can go out and actually I'm expecting them to go out and do it the next game as well."
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