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Sharks Locker Room: Talking Hertl’s Leadership, Another ‘Crazy’ Comeback

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DETROIT – The San Jose Sharks followed up the game of the year…with the game of the year.

After coming back from down 4-1 to beat the New York Islanders 5-4 in OT on Tuesday, the Sharks came back from down 4-0 to top the Detroit Red Wings 6-5 in OT tonight.

It was like four games in one: In the first period, San Jose played arguably their most solid, structured period of their season, suffocating Detroit en route to a 14-6 shots edge.

But then, in the second period, the Red Wings dropped four on the Sharks in 4:35 to take a commanding 4-0 lead. San Jose, however, responded with four of their own in 5:29 to tie the game with 23 seconds left in the middle frame.

Tomas Hertl, Fabian Zetterlund, and Nico Sturm, twice, powered this Sharks’ comeback.

The third period was a little more even, with Detroit taking a 5-4 lead, before San Jose tied it with 1:29 left in regulation, another Hertl strike.

Finally, Mikael Granlund gave the Sharks the win, just 37 seconds into OT.

Has Hertl ever played a game like this at any level?

“I don’t think so,” the alternate captain smiled. “It was crazy. Five minutes, you’re down four, [then] you’re back.”

“To do it back-to-back the way we have, be down 4-1 then this, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said.

So the Sharks’ 0-10-1 start? San Jose is now 8-7-1 after one of the worst starts in NHL history.

“Obviously, there’s still lots of room for improvement, but all this stuff in these first two-and-a-half months, both the bad and the good, it’s going to help us down the road,” Nico Sturm said. “Not just the rest of this year, but one year, two years, three years from now. All these highs and lows that we went through, guys are going to start to find a way to play a little more even-keel and it’s gonna help us experience-wise as a group.”

Hertl talked about exhorting the bench to not give up after the Sharks got down, Zetterlund outlined Thomas Speer’s contribution to his goal, Sturm was relieved to finally score, and Quinn has great things to say about Hertl, Sturm, and Granlund.

Tomas Hertl

Hertl, on the San Jose Sharks’ comeback:

We never quit, we keep pushing. Definitely big penalty from Pickles, taking it. (laughs) Two shorties, but again, we got down, we scored a late goal and finished it in overtime. It’s exciting, it’s so much fun right now.

Hertl, on exhorting the bench to keep pushing after his first goal made it 4-1:

Of course. I take pride as being one of the leaders. [Whether it’s a] good thing or bad thing, I want to cheer the boys, keep going. Because it’s hockey, we scored in two minutes, three goals, you know? Anything can happen.

Hertl, on if he’s ever played a game like this:

I don’t think so. It was crazy. Five minutes, you’re down four, [then] you’re back. It was a pretty crazy game.

Fabian Zetterlund

Zetterlund, on his overtime assist to Mikael Granlund:

We tried to stay above them. We know they’re fast players. We got them in the trap there and I saw my chance to reach for it and he went through and I had a break and they [held] my stick. I saw Granny, nice [shot].

Zetterlund, on Hertl’s leadership after the Sharks’ first goal:

We got our first goal, we knew we were gonna come back. That’s a great feeling to have.

Zetterlund, on his short-handed goal:

I got a breakaway and talked to Speersy before the game. He’s telling me where to shoot.

Zetterlund, on if he shot where goaltending coach Thomas Speer told him to shoot on Ville Husso:

Oh, yeah. (laughs)

Nico Sturm

Sturm, on snapping his 23-game goalless drought:

Monkey off my back, but that was a full-size gorilla on my back.

I know my role. I know the points are not my priority. But I play hockey to enjoy these kind of moments where you make plays, score goals. That’s what we all dream of.

It’s hard in those phases where [points] don’t come to not get down on yourself and swerve off the type of game that I want to play. In terms of that, I actually think I’ve done a pretty good job this year to not get off my game.

But it’s nice. It’s very nice. Feels good.

Sturm, on character of this San Jose Sharks group to bounce back from a 0-10-1 start:

We’ve definitely come a long way, both in terms of the togetherness and the cohesiveness of the group, but also in terms of how we play the game.

Now we make more plays, we score more goals. Obviously, Blacky and Kaapo have been phenomenal this year and give us a chance to win hockey games every night.

We’re slowly putting the pieces together.

Obviously, there’s still lots of room for improvement, but all this stuff in these first two-and-a-half months, both the bad and the good, it’s going to help us down the road. Not just the rest of this year, but one year, two years, three years from now. All these highs and lows that we went through, guys are going to start to find a way to play a little more even-keel and it’s gonna help us experience-wise as a group.

Sturm, on Hertl’s leadership this year:

Tommy especially, I think has done a phenomenal job with the absence of [Logan Couture] in terms of being a leadership presence in the locker room. Obviously Cooch, both the hockey player and the leadership is missing from the team. So Mario, Tommy and I think also Granny have done a phenomenal job of kind of stepping up there.

Tommy scores a huge goal, comes back to the bench, and tries to fire up the group.

David Quinn

Quinn, on the game-tying and OT goals:

And to score the empty netter again, just some real grit in that 6-on-5 from Granlund when it looked like they may score it, the empty netter on a couple of occasions.

I give Thomas Speer a lot of credit. I hate to do it. (laughs) But these back-end walls are very lively. We talked about it before the game.

We don’t have a smarter player than Granlund, he shoots it off the back wall, and it goes to Hertl, and goes in the back of the net.

Then a great play by Zetterlund in overtime. It really started in the neutral zone, where we kind of slowed them down a little bit, didn’t get Larkin get going.

Quinn, on if he’s ever experienced anything like this game in his playing and coaching career:

Yes. National championship game in 2009. We’re down 3-1 with a minute ago, and we scored two goals with the goalie pulled, ended up winning the national championship. But to do it back-to-back the way we have, be down 4-1 [against New York Islanders] then this, I’ve never experienced anything like this.

Quinn, on how good the San Jose Sharks’ first period was:

[Best] all season. In all three zones. Defended. Got out.

Quinn, on if that’s the model of how he wants the Sharks to play:

Absolutely.

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