Sharks

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl force Game 7 vs. Vegas with double-OT goal

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl force Game 7 vs. Vegas with double-OT goal

Tomas Hertl walked back his guarantee between Games 5 and 6, but the Sharks forward still made good with a double-overtime goal Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights. 

With San Jose on the penalty kill, the forward gathered a breakout pass from defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and went full Mark Messier to force a Game 7 in the best-of-seven, first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. The Sharks picked up a 2-1 win, despite being outshot 59-29. 

Hertl's goal was the first of its kind, too. No player in NHL history had scored a short-handed marker after the first overtime. 

After the Sharks forced Game 6 with a 5-2 win Thursday, Hertl told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker that he believed the Sharks would force a Game 7 "because we're a better team than them." On Friday, Hertl clarified to reporters that he wasn't guaranteeing anything, other than the fact that "everybody will put everything in the game and Vegas, and try to come back."

“We know it will be really hard, but we’re ready for this challenge," Hertl told reporters, via The Mercury News. "We want to show that we can beat them there, too.”

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' double-OT win to force Game 7]

Still, it's hard to ignore the parallels with the aforementioned Messier. Twenty-five years ago, Messier guaranteed his New York Rangers would force a Game 7 against the rival New Jersey Devils, and he scored the game-winning goal as part of a natural hat trick in the third period. 

Hertl scored two fewer goals Sunday  in Sin City, but the Sharks' season continues nonetheless with a do-or-die Game 7 on Tuesday night at SAP Center. Whether it was a guarantee or not, Hertl delivered on it.

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

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AP

NHL free agency: Erik Karlsson thanks Sharks in possible goodbye tweet

The Erik Karlsson era could be coming to an end after only one season in San Jose. 

Karlsson becomes a free agent at the end of Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks' star defenseman sent a thank you note to the team's fans and the whole Bay Area on Friday. 

San Jose acquired Karlsson, who turns 29 on May 31, from the Senators for four players and two draft picks on Sept. 13, 2018. The two-time Norris Trophy award winner was named to his fourth straight NHL All-Star Game in his first season as a Shark. 

Karlsson played in 53 regular-season games this year, his lowest since the 2012-13 season. He tallied 45 points -- three goals, 42 assists. 

Injuries, however, played a large role in Karlsson's season. He missed 27 of the Sharks' final 33 regular-season games with various ailments. And he missed the Sharks' season-ending Game 6 loss to the Blues in the Western Conference final.

[RELATED: Karlsson expected to be pursued by Rangers]

Karlsson is expected to be pursued by multiple teams this offseason, including the Sharks. But he could have just said his last goodbye to The Tank and all its fans in San Jose.

Sharks take high road when discussing controversial calls in playoffs

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USATSI

Sharks take high road when discussing controversial calls in playoffs

SAN JOSE – Officiating became a very hot topic during the Sharks' postseason run – whether it was for calls that went in their favor or against them.

With their run at the Stanley Cup now over, Team Teal has more of an opportunity to reflect on some of those calls.

During exit interviews Thursday, the general attitude was that the refs are doing the best they can in the middle of an extremely fast sport.

“They’ve got a tough job to do,” Logan Couture said. “Growing up my dad was a referee. He ref’d lacrosse and hockey and I got to see firsthand that it’s not an easy job.”

San Jose became the focal point of scrutiny during the Western Conference final after Erik Karlsson scored a game-winning goal in Game 3 that appeared to be set up with a hand pass from Timo Meier.

After a major penalty set the Sharks up to score four power-play goals in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Golden Knights. and a too-many-men call swung play in the Sharks' favor against the Colorado Avalanche, the lack of a call on Meier prompted a few outlets to call the Sharks lucky. (Which led to a prickly reaction from head coach Peter DeBoer.)

Couture insisted luck or favor from the officials has nothing to do with it.

“They’re not trying to pick sides or screw anyone on the ice,” Couture continued. “They’re trying to do their job to the best of their abilities. I think we’re fortunate our league we have some very good officials – some really, really good guys. They’re doing the best they can and I think they’re doing a good job.”

What the team would like to see, however, is some consistency. Tomas Hertl was sidelined for Game 6 against the Blues after being hit in the head by Ivan Barbashev – a hit that received no in-game penalty or discipline from the league. Hertl said he thought Barabshev might’ve received discipline for hitting him in the head, but acknowledged the refs' job is a difficult one.

“For sure on the ice its always tough for the ref because the game is so fast,” Hertl said of the hit to his head. “It’s quick. Sometimes in playoffs they just let it go.”

The Sharks aren’t the only team whose postseason run was peppered with controversial officiating. But the high profile nature of the Western Conference final put several on-ice calls in the spotlight, especially with regards to San Jose’s players being hit in the head. This has brought up questions as to whether the league will make changes in the offseason. 

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson didn’t comment on exact calls when he spoke with the press during exit interviews. He did say, however, that he’s open to having those discussions.

“I’m on the competition committee, so I get the opportunity to speak on things like that,” Wilson said. “There are calls you’re going to like, calls you’re not going to like. Difficult job, officiating in this league. It’s our job to give them the tools they need to be the best they can be.”

[RELATED: Sharks emerge from playoff run with lengthy injury list]

How the competition committee talks shake out is anyone’s guess. Although, Wilson is expecting open and insightful discussions.

“Once we get to meetings, I like listening and hearing other people’s opinions,” Wilson said. “But I like to hear from officials who have to make those decisions on the ice, what they may need. We’re trying to do what’s right for the game. Whatever that is, we’ll discuss before any decision gets made.”