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.
#DoubleOT Magic from Tomas Hertl. His 5th forces Game 7 back in the #SharkTank— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) April 22, 2019
Assists: Marc-Edouard Vlasic
WEST 1ST ROUND - SERIES TIED 3-3. GAME 7 TUESDAY PM (TBD)pic.twitter.com/R6ouMgDV1p #StanleyCup
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.”
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.