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Sharks Locker Room: Pure Joy From Eklund, Hertl After Improbable Comeback Win

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Who could’ve saw this coming?

Coming into this six-game road trip, the San Jose Sharks were 0-10-0 away from home. They had scored just six goals in those 10 defeats. They hadn’t come back from a third period deficit to win a game so far this season.

But then, on Friday, they earned their first road victory, putting a six-spot on the New Jersey Devils, 6-3.

On Sunday, they were down 6-3 to the New York Rangers late in the third period, but almost pulled off a jaw-dropping comeback, losing 6-5.

And tonight, they completed the comeback. Down by three goals once again with 10 minutes to go in the final frame, the Sharks scored four unanswered, capped off with William Eklund’s first-ever OT goal, beating the New York Islanders 5-4.

So after six goals in their first 10 road contests, that’s 16 in their last three, and the win of the year…so far.

Alternate captain Tomas Hertl, who led the way with a hat trick, was all smiles after the game, not just for himself but his teammates, “I’m really happy [for] this group. It’s a tough year. We got through a lot of stuff this year. But this shows me something.”

Kevin Labanc got the comeback going, making it 4-2 with 8:05 left, and setting the stage for back-to-back 6-on-5 Hertl goals. Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 33-of-37 shots, many of them Grade-A saves.

Will this be the highlight of the San Jose Sharks’ season? Or can they keep it going?

After the game, Hertl noted that the team’s confidence really rose after the Devils’ win. Eklund talked about what Hertl has meant to him as a leader and a linemate. Staten Island native Labanc was happy to score his first of the season in front of his family. And head coach David Quinn broke down some of the incredible plays that led to Hertl’s game-tying goal with 1:30 to go.

Tomas Hertl

Hertl, on the feeling in the room after the San Jose Sharks’ OT comeback win:

I’m really happy [for] this group. It’s a tough year. We got through a lot of stuff this year. But this shows me something.

Hertl, on if the near-comeback against the New York Rangers gave the Sharks the confidence that they could come back:

I think it [comes] from New Jersey. We finally feel like we can score some goals. Every season, it’s a big issue. You score zero or one goals, you can’t win in this league, even [if] the goalie stands on his head.

Lately, we started scoring some goals, so feels really great.

Same time, we still have to be a little better defensively. Don’t give up like easy chances. Don’t just hand it to them. We can’t hand a third goal like that, especially on the power play.

William Eklund

Eklund, on his OT goal:

I was just exhausted. Trying to get some speed there and Granny made an unbelievable play. I tried to rip it.

Eklund, on Tomas Hertl:

He’s really important to me. Our line, he’s keeping us together. Always talking on the bench, coming with small tips and tricks. It’s something that I really appreciate with him.

Just being the leader that he is, just huge for us.

Eklund, on Alexander Barabanov’s pass to him, and his pass to Hertl for the game-tying goal:

He’s an unbelievable passer. I was screaming [at] him a little bit. I know he’s gonna make those plays.

Just trying to freeze the goalie there. And Tomas was on the back so I’m trying to find him. Just happy it went in.

Kevin Labanc

Labanc, on the work by his line on his goal:

We were working hard for that one. Sturmey, Bails, we were just forechecking all game. The chances were coming.

Labanc, the Staten Island native, on being able to score and win in this way after such a tough season, in front of so many family and friends:

I have some family here. It’s nice that they’re here to watch me pop the first one in this season. Family, friends. Everyone’s watching at home. It’s always fun to score when you’re out on the East Coast.

David Quinn

Quinn, on San Jose Sharks’ comeback:

You know that second goal really gave us a ray of hope and real good job by that line, by the Sturm, [Labanc], Bailey line. Establishing a forecheck, getting the puck up top. Okhotiuk bombs it, we get screens.

Those guys did a hell of a job on the 6-on-5. Both times, the puck retrievals, the staying with it, not getting cute.

The fourth goal was just an incredible play by Eklund. [Islanders] had a chance to clear it.

Eklund does a great job, they were tired, does a great job getting a stick on it. Zetterlund keeps it in. A hell of a play by Barabanov, make that backhand pass to Eky. And then he finds Tommy on the backdoor.

We made hockey plays. Early on in the season, we weren’t making a lot of them. But we’re making a lot more of them now.

Quinn, on Hertl:

I mean he’s been outstanding all year. There was a little lull maybe in this game because he was getting frustrated when we were going through our tough time. But you’re talking about a big-time centerman in this league. He protects the puck so well, he’s got such a high hockey IQ, and just an incredible teammate.

Quinn, on how they’ve been playing can transform the San Jose Sharks’ season:

After the first 11 games, things were tough. To dig out of this hole, the way we are starting to, play with some swagger, and the confidence that we’re playing with. Just really says an awful lot about our players and I couldn’t be prouder of them and I couldn’t be happier for them because there were a lot of real happy faces. A lot of happy faces lately.

 

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