Tomas Hertl (Nick Lust/NHLI via Getty Images)
Tomas Hertl scored twice in Game 3, but the San Jose Sharks winger’s first goal of the contest was the better of his pair. Coming down the left wing, Hertl picked his spot and unloaded a cannon of a slap shot.
Tomas Hertl entered Game 3 of the Western Conference final following a very odd pattern.
In San Jose’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks winger scored in the opening game. For the remaining four games of the series, though, he was unable to find the back of the net. When the Sharks made it to the second round to square off against the Nashville Predators, Hertl again found the net in Game 1. However, over the next six games, Hertl again was held out of the goal column. So when he scored in Game 1 of the conference final and was held scoreless in Game 2, it seemed again like he might hit another series-long drought.
He broke the strange streak in first period of Game 3, though, and he did so with a no-doubter of a slap shot. Hertl found himself wide open and received a perfect cross-ice pass from Sharks captain Joe Pavelski with little more than four minutes remaining in the opening frame, picked a spot over St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott’s glove and laid into shot that came out of the net as fast as it went in:
Hertl’s goal was the Sharks’ first breakthrough of the night offensively, but it wouldn’t be the last in a game that saw San Jose control much of the play when the score was close. Alongside Pavelski and Joe Thornton, Hertl’s line wreaked havoc on the Blues’ defense and they would come through with the goal that would ice the contest in the third period when Hertl notched his second of the contest and fifth of the post-season.
The five playoff goals is a new career high, but the 22-year-old Czech winger had already set a new career-best when he scored in the opening game of the third-round series. In just his second post-season, though, Hertl is looking like he could be a force on the left wing for the Sharks for years to come. He set career-highs during the regular season with 21 goals, 25 assists and 46 points, and there has been no indication he’s slowing down in the playoffs.
Hertl’s pair of goals paced the Sharks to a 2-1 lead in the conference final, and San Jose is now only two wins shy of heading to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup final.