SAN JOSE – Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl was hopeful that he’d make it through his entire rookie season without taking a single penalty. That hope died when he held Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin in the second period of the Sharks’ 3-1 win over the Wild on Thursday.
“I hoped all season [for] zero. Today, two minutes, it’s fine,” Hertl said after the game, through his trademarked smile.
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It was his first infraction, but Hertl’s penalty wasn’t a very good one, as it came in an unnecessary situation deep in the Sharks’ offensive zone and prior to a Wild breakout. The Sharks were leading 3-0 at the time of the penalty, with 4:53 left in the second period.
Minnesota applied good pressure during the power play, too, and it appeared it would get an offensive zone faceoff against a tired Sharks group after San Jose iced the puck. But Hertl, fresh out of the penalty box, beat a tired Ryan Suter to the puck, seemingly surprising the all-star defenseman.
McLellan was asked about that particular play after the game.
“That was huge. That’s a really good point. He comes out of the penalty box, we get the clear, both teams are exhausted. So, to have them get the line change – and we had already used our timeout – for us to continue on there, we’d be in trouble. For him to skate there was a pretty big and important point.”
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The Sharks escaped the second period with a three-goal cushion, which included Hertl’s power play goal after a steal and set up from Tommy Wingels. Hertl has been a mainstay on the second power play unit, which hasn’t generated a whole lot. The 20-year-old rookie leads the Sharks with 15 goals, including three with a man advantage.
It was a good rebound game for Hertl, who didn’t play the last few shifts or any of the overtime period in Tuesday’s game against the Islanders, as Wingels replaced him on the Joe Thornton line late in the 3-2 shootout loss.
Hertl finished the Minnesota game with one goal on two shots in just 12 minutes and three seconds of ice time, and drew an early third period holding penalty on Clayton Stoner with a strong move in the offensive zone.
"Tomas was really good,” McLellan said. “He showed a little more energy than he has in the past [few] games, effective on that second unit of the power play. They finally got one, and it gave us a big boost. Tomas played well."