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Hertl leads Sharks past Coyotes

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Tomas Hertl enjoyed quite the coming-out party on Saturday night.

San Jose's 19-year-old rookie sensation scored his first two career NHL goals, celebrating each with sincere youthful enthusiasm, to lead the Sharks past the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 for win No. 2 to start the season.

"It's crazy and to win, I'm very happy," Hertl said.

Leave it to the talented Czech to solve a goalie who has given the Sharks fits lately. Phoenix's Mike Smith was 6-0-1 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save percentage, including four shutouts, in his last seven decisions against San Jose.

Big, quick and good with his stick, Smith was definitely in Sharks shooters' heads.

But Hertl wasted no time taking down San Jose's nemesis, making good on a breakaway in the game's opening minute, and converting his team's first power-play goal of the season shortly thereafter.

"You can see how he's having fun with it and he's smiling so much," San Jose's Patrick Marleau said. "He brings a lot of energy to us and it's fun to see."

The Sharks took advantage of a slow Phoenix change when defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's outlet pass sprung Hertl, who split Coyotes blue liners Oliver Eckman-Larsson and John Morris on his way to beating Smith between the pads with a backhand shot 46 seconds after the opening faceoff.

"That first goal hurts," Phoenix's Shane Doan said. "We stopped making plays and we couldn't get out of our own zone. Their forwards were too quick and we stopped playing hockey. We have to be better than that."

After Larsson held Logan Couture at 6:34, the Sharks snapped an 0-for-8 start on the power play 48 seconds into the advantage. With his back to the goal, Hertl redirected a mid-air drive by defenseman Matt Irwin from the right point past Smith at 7:23.

After each goal, Hertl flashed a big smile while skating quickly away from the goal with his hands high in the air.

"He's probably dreamed about playing in the NHL since he was 5 or 6 years old," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "You can see him smiling from ear-to-ear. We love it."

The Sharks' first-period domination continued when Phoenix's Kyle Chipchura high-sticked Thornton at 10:35 and the hosts put a whopping eight shots on goal in converting a second straight power play.

Marleau's 406th career goal -- tying him with Rod Gilbert and John Leclair for 84th on the NHL's career list -- came on a tap-in to cap a three-shot sequence in close at 12:30. Smith made saves on Joe Pavelski and Vlasic, but the puck popped free to an unmarked Marleau.

"I saw Patty open and Smith was square to me," Vlasic said. "Patty scores 40 goals a year, might as well give it to him."

The ice remained tilted for much of the second period as the Sharks increased an 18-8 advantage in shots to 30-10 with 12:06 elapsed in the period. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett elected to call timeout just five minutes into the period.

"We didn't execute very well," Tippett said. "We were out-battled on loose pucks and when you don't have the puck you're chasing the game, and that's what we did. We took the first penalty and it was downhill from there."

The Coyotes finally broke through late when Larsson used Vlasic as a screen to beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi with a drive from the right circle at 16:47 on Phoenix's 14 shot of the game.

Couture scored into an empty net with 24.6 seconds left as the Sharks outshot the Coyotes 51-23.

"When you give up 50 shots you're going to be hard pressed to win a game on any given night," Smith said.

NOTES: RW John McCarthy was recalled from Worcester in time to play on the fourth line. RW Matt Pelech, who skated 5:01 in Thursday's season-opening win, was sent to the Sharks' affiliate in the AHL. ... D Brad Stuart is getting closer but was held out of his second game after missing all preseason action with a lower-body injury sustained during summer workouts. San Jose's other scratches -- RW Adam Burish and RW Martin Havlat -- remain out with injuries. ... The Coyotes played the first of a season-long five-game road trip. ... Phoenix C Mike Ribeiro has 34 points in 46 career games against San Jose. ... D Chris Summers and D Michael Stone were healthy scratches for the Coyotes. ... D Rostislav Klesla (concussion) and LW Paul Bissonnette (suspension) did not make the trip to California. ... The Sharks conclude a season-opening three-game homestand on Tuesday when they host the New York Rangers for the first time since March 12, 2011. ... San Jose is 17-2-3 at home in its last 22 meetings against Phoenix.
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