Tomas Hertl’s unforgettable game leads Sharks past Flyers in OT

By Curtis Pashelka

Two lopsided losses to start. One COVID-19 related absence after another. An injury list that seemingly grew with each passing day.

The Sharks were presented with a new challenge to overcome just about every day throughout their four-game road trip this past week against Eastern Conference teams. Still, they came into Saturday’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers with a chance to go home with a respectable .500 record.

Tomas Hertl made it an unforgettable road trip.

Hertl scored twice in the third period to pull the Sharks out of a two-goal deficit, then added the game-winner at the 24-second mark of overtime for the natural hat trick to give his team a 3-2 win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

Hertl scored at the 7:47 and 14:29 marks of the third period, giving him 19 this season, after James van Riemsdyk netted two goals earlier in the period for a 2-0 Flyers lead.

Timo Meier and Brent Burns assisted on both of Hertl’s goals in regulation time.

Sharks goalie Adin Hill stopped 25 shots in the first two periods, but van Riemsdyk scored at the 1:06 mark and 6:47 marks, with the second goal coming on a Flyers power play.

Early Saturday, Sharks centerman Nick Bonino was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol Saturday, joining Logan Couture and Lane Pederson on the list of unavailable players. Assistant coach John MacLean was also placed in the league’s protocol Saturday, leaving coach Bob Boughner shorthanded on the bench.

Tack onto that injuries sustained on this trip to defensemen Erik Karlsson and Jake Middleton and goalie James Reimer.

Karlsson has an upper-body injury and could potentially be back as soon as Tuesday’s game with the Detroit Red Wings at SAP Center, but the timetables for Middleton (upper body) and Reimer (lower body) remain vague. Middleton was placed on injured reserve after the Sharks’ Jan. 4 game in Detroit.

Defenseman Radim Simek was also scratched for Saturday’s game, although it wasn’t immediately clear if his omission was a coach’s decision.

Bonino has five goals and two assists in 35 games this season but had three points in his last five games before Saturday. With Couture unavailable, Bonino had a season-high 21:11 in ice time for the Sharks in their 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at KeyBank Center.

Sharks coach Bob Boughner said neither Bonino, 33, or MacLean, 57, are symptomatic, adding that unless they can come with another plan for themselves, both will have to isolate in Philadelphia for five days before they can return to San Jose.

The Sharks have been without Couture and Pederson since the start of the week, as Couture was placed in the protocol on Monday, and Pederson the following day before San Jose played the Detroit Red Wings.

Both Couture and Pederson remain in Detroit. Couture is expected to fly back to San Jose on Sunday after the end of his mandatory isolation, and Pederson was expected to fly home the next day. Both could be available to play Tuesday when the Sharks host the Detroit Red Wings at SAP Center.

Without Couture, Pederson, and the injured Rudolfs Balcers and Kevin Labanc, the Sharks dressed several rookie forwards, including Jeffery Viel, Scott Reedy, and Jonah Gadjovich. Other rookies on the roster include Jasper Weatherby, Jonathan Dahlen, and Alexander Barabanov.

The Sharks inserted Nick Merkley into Saturday’s lineup, as he began the game on a line with Gadjovich and Viel. Gadjovich, though, appeared to be injured in the first period and did not return.

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