SAN JOSE – Tomas Hertl’s twice-injured right knee passed its first test with flying colors on Friday night in the Sharks’ 3-2 preseason overtime win against Arizona.
The 22-year-old scored a second period wraparound goal that tied the game at 2-2. Dylan DeMelo’s score in extra time gave San Jose its second victory in as many tries.
When Hertl was injured late in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Pete DeBoer referred to him as perhaps the Sharks’ best player in the series to that point. On Friday, Hertl was “the best player on the ice,” according to the coach.
“I thought he was really good, and that’s a good sign,” DeBoer said.
“I feel [my] knee was no problem,” Hertl said. “Just a little bit after [the first period] my legs [were] a little bit sore, but knee was totally fine. … No problem, knee was totally fine.”
Hertl has been playing center since camp began, although it’s difficult to say if that’s where DeBoer has him penciled in for opening night, since top two centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture have yet to practice with the team.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sharks score early in OT, beat Coyotes]
On Friday morning, DeBoer indicated he hasn’t yet made up his mind yet.
“I don’t have anyone penciled in anywhere. Everything is so fluid with lineup and injuries,” he said. “We still haven’t even gotten everybody back here yet to see what we have. We have a lot of options, a lot of guys that we can put in different spots. Everything is up in the air right now.”
Goalie Aaron Dell finished with 20 saves, and helped his cause in terms of locking down the NHL backup role. He allowed one goal in each of the first two periods, but made 11 saves on 11 shots in the third period and overtime.
“I was fighting the puck a little bit to start, but after it went on a little bit I settled in,” he said.
Does Dell think he helped his cause in what was his first complete preseason game with the organization?
“I think so. They had a couple lucky bounces. I think I just had to stick with it and show that I’m not going to fall apart,” he said with a smirk.
DeBoer said: “He was solid. I think we did a pretty good job in front of him defensively, but he made some big saves at the right time to let us hang around and find a way.”
Although it’s foolish to read too much into two preseason games against weak competition, DeBoer is encouraged in that the Sharks have essentially dictated play in wins against the Canucks and Coyotes.
San Jose is outshooting its opposition a combined 69-37 in a pair of 3-2 overtime wins.
“I like our possession. I like our shots the last couple games,” DeBoer said. “You’ve got to keep in mind the other team’s lineup, too, isn’t their NHL lineup, but I thought for both games we’ve kind of dictated that. We want to keep doing that, obviously.”