Melker Karlsson's return to lineup a positive for penalty-prone Sharks


Melker Karlsson's return to lineup a positive for penalty-prone Sharks

SAN JOSE - The Sharks have already dealt with their share of injuries through the first month-plus of the 2019-20 season.

So getting Melker Karlsson back in the lineup from an injury holds more weight than many Sharks fans might realize.

Karlsson has missed San Jose's last two games with an upper-body injury, and the Sharks racked up a whopping 23 penalty minutes in that span. As a member of San Jose's league-leading penalty kill, Karlsson's return is important considering the Sharks are also one of the most penalized teams in the NHL. 

Even with a couple of young players getting their look on San Jose's fourth line, Karlsson's contributions on special teams make him one of Peter DeBoer's go-to guys.

"Melker's the easy choice because he's a huge part of our penalty kill, which is a huge part of our game," the head coach said on Saturday morning.

While San Jose is perfectly happy with having a penalty kill that tops the NHL, they'd probably prefer to take fewer trips to the sin bin overall. Spending so much time on the kill has taken the flow out of the Sharks' five-on-five game and has zapped the life out of the special teams players. With Karlsson out of the lineup, that has meant putting even more pressure on some of the Sharks top players.

"We missed him last game," DeBoer said of Karlsson. "We took three penalties in a row. (One penalty) late in the first and two in the second. That really tired out some of our big guys without him in the lineup."

Karlsson spoke to the media on Saturday morning about what he saw in Thursday's game -- a helter-skelter battle in which the Sharks jumped out to an early 4-0 lead but had to hold on for dear life toward the end of the contest. The Swedish winger's biggest observation went beyond his team needing to take fewer penalties. They need to put out a full 60-minute effort.

"We've got to find a way to play a full 60 minutes," Karlsson said. "We can't only play half the game to want it. We need to play with the lead."

A lead is something they would like to get on Saturday against the Predators, who defeated the Sharks 5-2 in their first meeting of the season. Karlsson explained he thinks San Jose has a better chance of beating Nashville this time around.

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"I think we play better now, as the season has gone on," he said. "The first ten games, I don't think we played good enough. We know they have a lot of skill, so hopefully we can play in their zone tonight."

Getting more o-zone time is going to rely on San Jose not taking six penalties like they did the last time they faced Nashville. At least with Karlsson back in the lineup, they have a better chance of shutting the Predators down.

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal


Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

Tomas Hertl was pretty quiet for a majority of the NHL All-Star Game Final.

But with 2:36 remaining in the final period, Hertl gave the Pacific Division a 5-4 lead with a breakaway goal.

The Pacific would hang on to beat the Atlantic Division by that same score, taking home the $1 million dollar prize.

The goal was Hertl's only marker of the All-Star Game Final, but his fifth of the night as he scored four in the semifinal game.

Despite Hertl's gaudy numbers and game-winning goal, he didn't take home the All-Star Game MVP. That went to Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak.

Hertl will receive a hero's welcome when he returns to San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks open the second half of the season at home Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Hopefully for the Sharks, Hertl can carry the momentum into the final few months of the season.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl scores four goals in NHL All-Star Game semifinal


Sharks' Tomas Hertl scores four goals in NHL All-Star Game semifinal

It didn't take Sharks center Tomas Hertl long to get on the board in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday night.

Midway through the first period of the Western Conference matchup, Hertl gave the Pacific Division a 3-0 lead over the Central Division with a breakaway goal.

Hertl took the outlet pass from Kings center Anze Kopitar and beat Blues goalie Jordan Binnington over his left shoulder.

But Hertl wasn't done. Not by a longshot, as he added three more goals to help the Pacific advance to the All-Star Game Final with a 10-5 win over the Central Division.

Hertl earned his first All-Star appearance as a replacement for captain Logan Couture, who fractured his ankle in early January.

In 46 games for the Sharks this season, Hertl has 15 goals and 20 assists.