Rookie Hertl launches Sharks past Coyotes

SAP CENTER — There was a lot of talk headed into Saturday night’s Sharks game about Team Teal’s scoring chances against Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.

After all, San Jose had gone 0-6-1 in their last seven faceoffs with the goaltender.

Tomas Hertl either didn’t hear — or didn’t understand — any of that talk.

The Czech rookie sensation tallied his first two NHL goals against Smith in the first period of the Sharks’ 4-1 win over the Coyotes, advancing their record 2-0 on the season.

Head Coach Todd McLellan said of the young player’s first goal, and of how the team played as a whole:

“Big night for him. Exciting night, one that he’ll remember for a long time, and that we’ll all remember as well. We were part of his first goal and his second win. But more importantly, the group played really really well.”

Hertl registered his first NHL goal just 46 seconds into the contest, skating straight through the Coyotes defense and backhanding the puck past Smith. Marc-Edouard Vlasic registered an assist and the Sharks took an early 1-0 lead.

The 19-year-old Hertl then made the score 2-0 at with the Sharks’ first power play goal of the season. Matt Irwin and Brent Burns earned assists.

Teammate Patrick Marleau talked the momentum that Hertl’s success brings to the rest of the team:

“I think it’s great. You can see he’s having fun with it, and smiling a lot. It brings  a lot of energy to this group… You can see how excited he is, just being out there and playing. And he’s playing well right now. It’s good to see.”

Marleau widened the Sharks lead on their next power play attempt with a wrist shot to make it 3-0 before the opening period was over.

They were San Jose’s first two power play goals of the season, as they were unable to score on the advantage in their opener on Thursday. Captain Jose Thornton said of finally scoring on the power play:

“On Thursday our power play looked dangerous, we just didn’t score… To get the two early was huge. Kind of got the confidence going from there, and I thought it looked sharp tonight.”

Phoenix got on the board towards the end of the second period; Oliver Ekman-Larsson wrist shot eluded Antti Niemi to put the Coyotes on the board 3-1 with 3:13 left before the second intermission.

McLellan said of his team’s play in those final minutes of the period:

“I liked our second period. I liked it until about three minutes left in the second. I thought we were strong, we were aggressive, we were pinching and keeping pucks in. We got a little bit sloppy with about three minutes left.”

Logan Couture got the final goal of the night with 26 seconds left on the clock, solidifying the Sharks 4-1 victory.

The Sharks will be back in action Tuesday as they host the New York Rangers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Notes

Tonight was the ninth time in franchise history that the Sharks have had 50 shots or more (51) in a single game. Eight out of nine of those games have come under Todd McLellan. … The Sharks have had success getting pucks to the net in the first period during their first two games of the 2013-2014 season. San Jose had 16 shots in the first period against Vancouver on Thursday, and 18 shots in the first against Phoenix… Tomas Hertl became the youngest Shark with a two-goal game since Patrick Marleau on March 17, 1999 (via Darin Stephens, CSN). … Patrick Marleau finished with a game-high eight shots Saturday night. It was the twelfth time he registered eight or more shots in a single game. (Last time: March 31, 2011 vs. Dallas.)


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