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Hertl's heroics lead the Sharks to 5th straight win
Sharks beat former netminder Antti Niemi
1/16/16 - By Mike Lee -

It wasn't pretty, but the Sharks figured out how to extend their winning streak to 5 games on Saturday night at SAP Center. They also did it against the top team in the Western Conference. San Jose let a pair of 3rd period leads slip through their fingers against the Dallas Stars, but a Tomas Hertl goal 1:12 into overtime gave the Sharks an exciting 4-3 win before a rare home sellout crowd.

Hertl slipped a shot past old friend Antti Niemi from the bottom of the right circle after Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the puck for the Sharks forward after cycling out from behind the Stars net. Hertl followed his defensive partner out of the right corner before taking the puck and circling back toward Niemi. A quick shot caught the Sharks former netminder by surprise, sailing past him on the near side.

It was a homecoming of sorts for the Sharks this week. Former head coach Todd McLellan made his first trip back to San Jose on Thursday. Niemi was making his first appearance in San Jose since signing a free agent contract with the Stars last summer. The goaltender had a rough night, giving up 4 goals in his first trip back to San Jose since GM Doug Wilson decided to change course in net.

The Stars opened the games scoring on an Ales Hemsky goal 11:15 into the opening period. Matias Janmark beat Logan Couture to a loose puck, chipping it to the slot from the right wing boards. Hemsky was in the right place at the right time, scooping up the deflection and put a nifty move on Martin Jones at the top of the Sharks crease before sliding the puck under Jones' left pad.

San Jose tied the game 3:54 into the 2nd period, after Vlasic pumped a shot past Niemi form the slot. The Sharks opened up the shooting lane for Vlasic by sliding a pair of passes form the right side. The last came from Joe Thornton, who saw Vlasic breaking toward the net. Rather than shooting, Thornton gave up the puck for the improved scoring chance created by Vlasic's momentum toward the net.

An Alex Goligoski interference penalty set up the next Sharks goal, with one of two power play chances for San Jose during the game. San Jose relied on the 2nd power play unit to get the job done, led by Chris Tierney. The Sharks forward deposited a rebound from the right dot after Tommy Wingels bounced a shot off Niemi.

The Stars opened the 3rd period with more energy than the Sharks could handle. Tyler Seguin pumped home a shot from the between the circles 33 seconds into the period after the Stars were able to keep the puck just inside the Sharks blueline. Seguin grabbed the puck at the left point then skated toward the slot before roofing a shot form 25 feet out.

Jamie Benn helped out the Sharks with a tripping penalty 6 minutes later, setting Vlasic's 2nd goal of the evening. Vlasic uncorked a shot from the top of the left circle, sending it across crease, catching the upper right corner of the net as Niemi tried sliding to his left with an outstretched glove hand. The glove was late and the Sharks had a 3-2 lead.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff challenged the goal, claiming the Sharks were offside on the entry. The challenge was ridiculous, given the fact that the Sharks maintained possession in the Stars zone for a good 60 seconds before Vlasic took his shot. The goal stood, but it begs the debate on what's material to a score and what can be used to negate a score.

The review took longer than time elapsed for the next goal. Jason Spezza took a cross-ice feed from Jamie Benn after the Stars gained the zone following the subsequent faceoff. Spezza received the puck and did a 270 degree spin to his right before whipping a shot from the right dot past Jones. It was a shot that the Sharks goaltender had to stop, but didn't.

Neither team could generate the go-ahead goal in regulation, which led to Hertl's overtime heroics. The Stars would only send a single shot in Jones direction in the extra period, while the Sharks were able to generate three. Hertl's was the one that mattered and with that, the Sharks have a 5th straight victory.



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1 2 3 OT T
DAL 1 0 2 0 3
SJ 0 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, DAL, Hemsky 4 (Janmark, Roussel), 11:15.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Vlasic 6 (Thornton, Hertl), 3:54. 3, SJ, Tierney 5 (Wingels, Nieto), 11:07, (pp).
3rd period - 4, DAL, Seguin 25 (Benn), 0:33. 5, SJ, Vlasic 7 (Demelo, Donskoi), 7:51, (pp). 6, DAL, Spezza 15 (Benn, Seguin), 8:03.
Overtime - 7, SJ, Hertl 7 (Vlasic, Couture), 1:12.
1st period - Donskoi, SJ (goaltender interference), 16:41.
2nd period - Goligoski, DAL (interference), 9:13.
3rd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 1:49; Benn, DAL (tripping), 6:25.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
DAL - Niemi 39 35
SJ - Jones 35 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
DAL 13 8 13 1 35
SJ 16 14 6 3 39
Power Play Conversion
DAL 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Spezza
Referees: Leggo, Pollock. Linesmen: Mach, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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