SAN JOSE – Jovial Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl has been smiling since the start of training camp, but he’s bringing even more smiles to the Sharks’ home crowd.
Hertl scored four goals, including a highlight reel, between-the-legs roof shot midway through the third period, in leading the Sharks to a 9-2 rout of the New York Rangers on Tuesday night at SAP Center.
The 19-year-old now has six goals in his last two games, and became the first Sharks player since Owen Nolan on Dec. 19, 1995 to score four times in a game.
Hertl completed the hat trick at 9:02 of the third period on a power play, swiping home a loose puck to give the Sharks a 7-2 lead. Three minutes later, he took a pass from Jason Demers and sped towards the goal, where he skillfully lifted the puck over Martin Biron with a move straight out of a video game.
The Sharks improved to 3-0 on the season, and have outscored the opposition 17-4 over that span.
The Rangers, playing their second of back-to-backs, looked lethargic and sloppy for most of the night, while the Sharks continued to roll in what has been a dominant start to their season.
Rookie Matt Nieto got his first career NHL points with a goal and two assists. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dan Boyle, Logan Couture and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, while Demers and Joe Pavelski each had three assists.
The Sharks actually trailed, 1-0, when the Rangers capitalized on a two-man advantage. Brad Richards’ low shot from the top of the circle past Antti Niemi at 3:27 of the first period was his third goal of the season.
San Jose took over from there. Vlasic’s wrist shot beat Henrik Lundqvist after Pavelski forced a turnover for a shorthanded goal at 4:23, and Boyle’s shot from along the boards deflected in off of Marc Staal’s skate at 7:56. The Sharks carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
San Jose used four goals in four minutes and 16 seconds in the middle period to break the game open.
Nieto’s first goal gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead, when he slammed in a pass from Tommy Wingels at 8:16 of the second period, and Hertl tipped in a brilliant backhanded pass from the corner by Andrew Desjardins just over a minute later.
The Rangers replaced Lundqvist with Biron after that goal, and the backup was the victim of a pair of bad bounces. A wrist shot by Boyle bounced high into the air and in front of the net, and Couture whacked it out of midair at 9:39 to make it 5-1. Later, Joe Thornton picked up a loose puck that bounced off of a broken stick lying in the neutral zone, and fed Hertl for a breakaway goal at 12:32.
For the Sharks, it was the first time since Jan. 18, 2010 vs. Calgary that they scored nine goals.
The Sharks and Rangers don’t play again until March 16 at Madison Square Garden.
The Sharks didn’t get a power play until the third period, and finished 2-for-3 on the night. New York was 1-for-3.
It was a battle between Vezina Trophy runners up, and while Lundqvist was pulled after allowing four goals, Niemi was rarely tested. Niemi made 18 saves to improve to 3-0, while Lundqvist fell to 1-2 with 22 saves on 26 shots.
Biron allowed five goals on 20 shots in a no-decision.
Brad Stuart made his season debut, and received an elbowing penalty at 2:32 of the first period, catching Rick Nash up high. Nash did not return after the first period, and it’s possible Stuart could hear from the league for an illegal check to the head.
Scott Hannan was a healthy scratch.
The Rangers’ Dominic Moore, who ended the 2011-12 season with the Sharks, skated as New York’s fourth line center.
The Sharks begin a stretch of eight road games out of 10 when they visit the Canucks on Thursday night. They return home on Saturday against Ottawa, and visit St. Louis and Dallas next week.