SAN JOSE -- SAP Center was home, sweet home for Tomas Hertl on Saturday.
The San Jose center scored the Sharks' first home goal in nearly a year in the second period against the rival Vegas Golden Knights, cutting Vegas' lead to 2-1 with 1:21 remaining before the intermission.
Hertl capitalized on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush, one-timing Rudolfs Balcers' cross-ice feed past an outstretched Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 27-year-old scored the Sharks' first goal of the season last month, and he got them on the board at their home rink Saturday.
Noah Gregor's third-period, consolation tally in a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2020 was the Sharks' last goal at home before Saturday. Four days later, the NHL announced it was suspending the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sharks originally were scheduled to play their home opener on Feb. 1 against the Golden Knights, but would've played that game and one more at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. due to regional stay-at-home orders in the Bay Area amid the pandemic. Those two games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, and San Jose opened the season with 12 consecutive road games.
San Jose took the ice with the usual pomp and circumstance, but in a decidedly quieter building than the last time. About a dozen teal tarps in the lower bowl and piped-in crowd noise stood in SAP Center's maximum possible audience of 17,562, as spectators aren't allowed at professional and collegiate sporting events while Santa Clara County remains in California's purple tier during the pandemic.
The Sharks had 14,694 fans in attendance for their last home game, held as the Santa Clara County Public Health Department recommended against, but did not ban, mass gatherings. A day after that game, Santa Clara County banned mass gatherings of 1,000-plus people for the first time.