Hertl’s hat trick leads Sharks past Flames 5-3

The San Jose Sharks returned to home ice Tuesday night, after a five-game road trip, to take on the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames.

Looking to get back on track after dropping their last two games, the Sharks turned back to Adin Hill in the crease with James Reimer still not ready to suit up with an undisclosed injury. The uncertainty of Reimer’s availability took another turn Tuesday morning as Alexei Melnichuk was called up to the Sharks from the Barracuda. All that has been said about Reimer is that he is “feeling rundown and not 100%.”

Also ahead of Tuesday’s contest, Kevin LaBanc was listed as a healthy scratch. Bob Boughner had this to say about LaBanc, “He just needs to be better. We need more from him. We’ve tried him on different lines and we want to ply with a certain identity and everybody’s got to be on that same page.”

The game started out with the Flames firing on all cylinders. It didn’t take long for Calgary to find the back of the net as Dillon Dube scored his third goal of the season 1:37 into the game to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

Calgary continued to put pressure on the Sharks early on, taking 5 of the first 6 shots of the game. The Flames’ early dominance was halted when Erik Gudbranson was sent to the box for cross-checking Alexander Barabanov.

On the power play, Tomas Hertl took a beautiful cross-ice pass from Barabanov and ripped a shot through Dan Vladar to tie the game. Hertl’s 10th goal of the season was also his second in the last two games following a five-game goal drought.

Not long after Hertl’s equalizer, Johnny Gaudreau scored his 10th goal of the season, putting the Flames back on top after a beautiful setup pass from Matthew Tkachuk.

Early in the second period with the Flames pushing hard, just as they did to open the game, Adam Ruzicka scored his first career NHL goal to extended Calgary’s lead to 3-1.

With things looking like they could get out of hand as Calgary headed to the power play after a delay of game call on Erik Karlsson, the Sharks league-leading penalty kill stepped up in a huge way. Moments after the big penalty kill, Karlsson found himself on a breakaway after a great lead pass by Logan Couture, where he snuck the puck past Vladar to cut the deficit in half for the Sharks.

Karlsson’s 7th goal of the season was the spark that the Sharks were desperately in need of to turn the tide of the game.

With the Sharks on their second power play of the night after Nikita Zadarov was sent to the box for cross-checking Jasper Weatherby, Logan Couture netted his 8th goal of the season to tie the game. Erik Karlsson sent a shot soaring towards the net that Couture beautifully tipped through Vladar’s five-hole with 5:33 left to play in the second period.

With just under two minutes left in the middle frame, Tomas Hertl scored his second goal of the game to give the Sharks a 4-3 lead. Alexander Barabanov ripped a shot to the net that was fended off by Vladar, creating a big rebound that was collected by Hertl and sent to the back of the net.

Adin Hill stole the show in the third period, saving all 15 shots that he faced. The Sharks were outshot in the final frame 15-to-5 in a dominate effort by Calgary to try and tie the game. Hill finished the game with 40 saves in a huge bounce-back performance to get the Sharks back in the win column.

Late in the third period, Tomas Hertl potted his third goal of the game into the empty-net for his 4th career hat trick. After his five-game goal drought, where he had voiced his frustrations last week, Hertl now has four goals in his last two games.

The Sharks’ special teams were outstanding tonight, with the power play going 2-for-2 while the penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3.

Erik Karlsson had another big night with a goal and an assist, Logan Couture also had a great game recording a goal and two assists, while Brent Burns and Alexander Barabanov both had two helpers each.

The Sharks will look to build off tonight’s win as they return to the ice on Thursday night to take on the Central Division leading Minnesota Wild at SAP Center.

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