Marc-Andre Fleury

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.

Tomas Hertl's double-OT winner in Sharks' Game 6 highlights breakout season

Tomas Hertl's double-OT winner in Sharks' Game 6 highlights breakout season

After causing a fuss Thursday by telling an excited SAP Center crowd that the Sharks would return home for a Game 7, Tomas Hertl informed the press Sunday night he wasn't necessarily trying to throw shade at the Vegas Golden Knights. He simply believed his team had a chance to force the Stanley Cup playoff first-round series to continue.

Hertl then took it upon himself to be the hero in Game 6.

With teammate Barclay Goodrow in the penalty box during double overtime, the Czech forward grabbed the puck and jettisoned up the ice to beat Marc-Andre Fleury short-handed and deliver a victory that guaranteed the Sharks will play a Game 7 against the rival Vegas squad.

Anyone who has watched the Sharks all season can tell you this has been the campaign in which Hertl has made a leap from being a promising young forward to one of San Jose's leaders. His short-handed game-winning goal in Game 6 perfectly showcased the hard work he put in during the regular season, and the overwhelming commitment he has to helping Team Teal win.

"He's a playoff-type of player," Logan Couture told the press after San Jose's exciting 2-1 win over the Knights. "He's just scored big-time goals for us this year. We probably wouldn't be in this spot without him right now."

Joe Pavelski agreed.

"Just his confidence," the Sharks' captain said. "Just how he wants it. You can see that, and you can feed off him. He's just a huge piece for us."

Couture wasn't lying when he said Hertl scores "big-time goals." No. 48 was responsible for a couple of San Jose's big goals during the regular season -- sweet wraparounds, game-tying markers late in regulation, you name it. His scoring prowess was, in part, thanks to being at the healthiest of his tenure in a Sharks sweater.

Hertl's move to center, where he could create even more space for himself, brought his game to a whole other level. But his game-winning goal in Game 6 went above and beyond. Per NHL Public Relations, Hertl became one of just eight players to score a short-handed goal in overtime of a playoff game. The goal also makes Hertl the first player in NHL history to score a short-handed goal in a game that required multiple overtimes.

For how monumental the goal was, Hertl himself told reporters after the game that his break up the ice was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

"I saw all this space, so I just took a couple of steps," Hertl said.

While he surely was still pumped up from scoring the game-winner, Hertl acknowledged work remains to be done, with Game 7 on Tuesday.

[RELATED: Watch Hertl's incredible game-winning goal]

"It feels great, but now we have to finish it and we have to step up," Hertl said.

Not surprisingly, a media member in the Sharks' dressing room asked Hertl if he would guarantee a Team Teal victory in Game 7. Hertl cracked his big signature grin and said: "I can guarantee we'll try our best."

Watch Logan Couture give Sharks critical 1-0 lead in Game 6 vs. Vegas

Watch Logan Couture give Sharks critical 1-0 lead in Game 6 vs. Vegas

The Sharks didn't score early, but they did score first in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup playoff first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Logan Couture opened the scoring with nine seconds remaining in the first period Sunday. The Sharks center gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone for a partial breakaway, then beat Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his fourth goal of the series. 

Couture's goal was historic for the Sharks. They had not scored the first goal at T-Mobile Arena in 10 previous regular-season and playoff meetings in Sin City. 

[RELATED: Burns named Norris Trophy finalist for third time in career]

The winner of every game this series scored the first goal, and the Sharks hope history repeats itself Sunday. They entered Game 6 trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, and need a win to keep their season alive for (at least) one more game. 

They have the critical lead. Now, it's about maintaining it.