Hertl, 19, scores four as Sharks rip Rangers

Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Tomas Hertl needed only three games to make a name for himself in the NHL.
San Jose's 19-year-old rookie from the Czech Republic scored four goals Tuesday, giving him six in two outings, as the Sharks ran the New York Rangers out of SAP Center in a 9-2 victory.
"You don't see that too often," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of Hertl's performance. "It's very, very special."
Hertl smiled from ear-to-ear as television cameras caught his mother fighting back tears as the building exploded in noise.
"This is a dream. It's crazy, four goals," Hertl said. "I never in the Czech league, I never had three. And (four) in the NHL, it's crazy."
Hertl became the youngest NHL player to score four goals in a game since March 30, 1988 (Jimmy Carson, Los Angeles Kings). He is the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to score four or more goals, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Hertl becomes the only player to score a total of six goals in his first three games as a Shark. His four goals tied a franchise single-game record, and he did it by logging only 11:12 of ice time. Hertl became the fourth player since 1987-88 to log less than 11:30 of ice time and score four goals in a game.
"He likes to score goals, you can tell by his celebrations," Thornton said. "As teammates, it's fun to watch him put pucks in the back of the net."
Meanwhile, New York lost the services of power forward Rick Nash after the opening period. Nash was on the receiving end of an elbow from Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart in the opening three minutes. Nash finished the opening period with nearly six minutes of ice time, but he didn't return after the first intermission.
"I have a headache," Nash said. "It got worse. It was a head shot. I'm concerned the way it feels."
Joe Pavelski and Jason Demers each had three assists as 14 skaters and goalie Annti Niemi landed on the score sheet for San Jose (3-0-0). Rookie Matt Nieto added his first career goal and two assists.
"To get my first goal, I couldn't be happier, and I thought the team played well again tonight," Nieto said.
The midgame rally began when Nieto scored at 8:16 to cap a San Jose burst after a New York turnover at center. Tommy Wingels' drive toward the net bounced off Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman to Nieto in the slot.
Hertl scored his first by tapping in a cross-ice feed from Andrew Desjardins at 9:19, a goal that gave the Sharks a 4-1 lead and chased Rangers starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Logan Couture greeted New York backup Marty Biron with his second goal of the season, swatting in the puck after a shot by Patrick Marleau bounced hard off the end boards at 9:39.
Hertl finished the four-goal second -- a period that featured a 23-8 advantage in shots for San Jose -- by backhanding a breakaway through Biron's legs at 12:32.
Hertl produced his third goal on the team's first power play at 9:02 of the third period, and he scored No. 4 at 12:05 with a breakaway, making an incredible between-the-legs shot.
"That's something I don't have in my bag," Thornton said. "That was awfully pretty."
Niemi stopped 18 of 20 shots for his third straight win.
"The Sharks were on top of their game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's tough to understand, at this point, how we can play so well last night and play this way tonight. We have 48 hours before our next game, and we'll come up with answers."
Despite allowing the first goal, the Sharks rallied for two of their own and had the Rangers on the heels during the opening 20 minutes.
New York (1-2-0) converted a 5-on-3 power play at 3:27 as Richards scored his third of the season on a shot from the right point that slipped past Niemi, who was screened by Ryan Callahan.
A too-many-men minor 31 seconds after Stuart was sent off for elbowing Nash gave the Rangers the two-man advantage.
The hosts, however, scored short-handed before killing the second penalty as defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's wrist shot from the slot slipped over the right pad of Lundqvist to tie it at 4:34.
San Jose got a second goal from its defense in the period as Dan Boyle's low, spinning shot from the top of the right circle glanced off the leg of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and past Lundqvist at 7:56. Pavelski won an offensive-zone draw to set up the sequence that included an assist and the first NHL point for Nieto.
NOTES: Stuart made his season debut after missing the first two games with a lower-body injury that kept him out of all seven preseason games as well. Stuart paired with Demers. D Scott Hannan was a healthy scratch. ... The Rangers made their third stop of a franchise-record nine straight away from home to start a season. New York next plays the Ducks on Thursday at Anaheim. ... Rangers C Dominic Moore made his first return to San Jose since leaving the Sharks during a first-round playoff series in 2012 when his wife was diagnosed with liver cancer. She died Jan. 7, 2013, and Moore took last year's abbreviated season off before signing as a free agent with New York in the summer. ... The Sharks hosted an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time since March 22, 2012 (vs. the Boston Bruins). ... The Rangers last visited San Jose on March 12, 2011, when they won 3-2 in overtime. ... D Justin Falk and RW Jesper Fast did not dress for New York, while RW Adam Burish (lower body) and RW Martin Havlat (pelvic surgery) remain out with injuries.

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