"WE WANT TEN"
One of the rarest chants in hockey graced the SAP Center tonight as the Sharks lit up Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron for nine goals, ultimately winning 9-2 in game that was not as close as the score suggests, if you believe it or not.
After the first period, the story was about the shot domination by the Sharks. They led 15-7 on the shot clock and 2-1 on the scoreboard. The story was about the aggressive penalty kill by the Sharks that generated as many - or more - chances than the Rangers. The story was about the scoring by the defensemen; Vlasic - Vlasic! - and Boyle scored in the first, bringing the total of goals by the blueline to four on the season. They had 17 all of last season, so the increased production would be a storyline to watch. Pavelski - though still snakebit - was dominant, even setting up Vlasic on a short-handed goal to tie the game shortly after the Rangers scored on a 5-on-3.
Then the rest of the game happened.
The second period saw four goals scored, including three goals in 89 seconds. First up was Matt Nieto and his first NHL goal. That would have been the story of the game, a Long Beach native continuing the California hockey growth narrative. Nieto executed a beautiful pass through the skates of a Rangers player to Pavelski, who passed it to Wingels, who passed it to Nieto who was untouched in front of Lundqvist. It was a pretty goal, and it was an easy goal.
Second goal of the period continued Tomas Hertl's three game point streak to begin his career. Andrew Desjardins collected the puck from the corner, then passed it to Hertl who had set up shop in front of Lundqvist. That goal chased King Henrik from the net, with backup Martin Biron taking his place.
However, that didn't stop the Sharks' barrage of goals, with Logan Couture scoring a goal off a puck that bounced off the endboards right in front of the goalmouth just seconds later. Hertl started to change the narrative by potting his second of the night. In a moment emblematic of how the Sharks' night was going, Boyle's broken stick laying untouched on the ice generated a turnover, with Thornton picking up the puck and springing Hertl on a breakaway. Hertl easily shoots it in behind Biron. 6-1.
Third period. The Rangers get another goal, on a great outlet pass by Brian Boyle from behind the net to Dorsett, but the result of the game was a foregone conclusion. But the story of the game was just about to be written. Tomas Hertl, after flirting with a hat trick against the Coyotes, connects on the powerplay to let the hats rain onto the ice. His famous perma-grin was as wide as ever as the Tank gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. The cameras cut to a shot of his mom and girlfriend crying in the stands. It was a great moment.
But not as great as what happened three minutes later.
Tomas Hertl's fourth goal of the game is a goal of the year contender, and is one of the rare hockey plays that made Sportscenter (not to be confused with Sportscentre).
Justin Braun also scored to prompt the "WE WANT TEN" chants, and on any other night would have contributed to the first period narrative of defensemen continuing to produce. However, tonight belongs to Tomas Hertl, the 4th youngest player in NHL history to score 4 goals.
To quote Tomas Hertl, "This is dream."
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl can probably buy a car now.
- Hertl was the first 19 year old to score 4 goals since 1988. That's five years before he was born.
- Hertl is 19 overall in goals scored. That's if he was his own team.
- Hertl's mom was wearing the jersey he was given when he was drafted, which is adorable and signals that the Sharks shop really needs to start selling Hertl jerseys.
- It's obvious that the Sharks were dominant based on the score, but it's hard to put into words just HOW dominant they were - it looked like they were on a power play the entire game, save for when they were on a 2 man disadvantage. Even when they were on normal penalty kills they traded chances with the Rangers.
- If you want to quantify the dominance, how's this: the shot attempts at even strength were 82-46, Sharks.
- All scoring in the second period was done by players under the age of 25. But yes, the Sharks' window is closing.
- Niemi was solid in the limited action he saw. Both Rangers goals would have been great saves if made, and he faced solid shots in the rare instances the Rangers were on his end of the ice.
- Quietly, Matt Nieto had a three point night, posting two assists with his first NHL goal.
- Rick Nash did not return to the game after the first period, likely due to a head injury sustained by an elbow from Brad Stuart. He did skate nine shifts after the elbow, which makes you wonder what happened to the quiet room the NHL was touting a few seasons ago.
- Poor Alain Vigneault.