TORONTO — Tomas Hertl messed up, and the San Jose Sharks rushed to his defense.
Tied at one apiece in a hard-fought contest, Hertl, looking for Timo Meier, gave it away to David Kampf with less than three minutes left in regulation. The Sharks had just killed a Nick Cicek penalty and looked well on their way to at least overtime against the scorching-hot Toronto Maple Leafs.
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“When I got it, I knew Timo was there. I thought he was alone,” Hertl recalled. “But [Kampf] was there and I made a terrible play. I cost the goal. It can’t happen, three minutes left in the game.”
The Leafs would score another via empty net to take a 3-1 decision. Toronto has now won five in a row, and they have points in 15 of their last 16 games.
Credit to the San Jose Sharks alternate captain, he stood up after the game and shouldered the blame.
“It’s all on me. I cost us two points because I made a stupid play,” the heart-on-his-sleeve Hertl blurted. “I feel really bad right now because we played a good game off the back-to-back. Guys killed a huge PK. And I fucked up.”
The Sharks, however, wouldn’t let Hertl put it all on himself.
“We don’t have to say anything to him,” Matt Nieto, the Sharks’ lone goal-scorer, said. “The loss isn’t on him. He’s won us many games here. He’s a great leader and a role model for everyone in the room.”
Hertl scored two goals last night to lead the Sharks to a 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and is tied with Meier and Logan Couture for second on the team with 23 points, trailing only Erik Karlsson.
“Obviously, it’s a turnover that we’d like to have back. We know he’d like to have back. You could see it on his face, the minute it happened,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn shared. “But those things happen in a game. I was proud of the way we battled.”
And battle the now 8-14-4 Sharks did, including Hertl, against one of the best teams in the NHL. Per SPORTLOGiQ, San Jose enjoyed a 13-7 Slot Shots advantage at Even Strength. Natural Stat Trick gave Toronto the 11-10 High-Danger edge at 5-on-5.
Any way you slice it, it’s another game this season where the Sharks were right there and probably deserved a better fate. But once again, they just couldn’t graduate from playing “good hockey” to playing “winning hockey,” to paraphrase Quinn.
This is the third time this season that the Sharks have lost a sure point by surrendering the game-winner in the final three minutes of the contest.
“I’m really pissed because we should be fighting for the points,” Hertl lamented, “and we have nothing.”
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