SAN JOSE -- With the eyes of New York on him Tuesday night, Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl put on a Broadway-worthy performance.
The 19-year-old native of the Czech Republic tied a franchise record with four goals to lead the Sharks to a 9-2 rout of the New York Rangers. And he capped his scoring outburst with a nifty between-the-legs drop pass to himself that left backup netminder Martin Biron flummoxed.
"He's a passionate young man, and I'm not even sure if he realizes where he is," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's innocent out there."
But what about the trick-shot nature of that fourth goal?
"Well, he scored, why not?" McLellan said. "Our game needs a little bit of that."
The only other Shark to score four goals was Owen Nolan against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 19, 1995. And Hertl's accomplishment came in just his third NHL game.
"That was special," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of his linemate's performance. "You don't see that very often."
Hertl was the star, but he had a strong supporting cast on a night that might prove costly to the Rangers for reasons that go beyond the two points as star New York forward Rick Nash left the game early after taking a Brad Stuart elbow.
Matt Nieto, San Jose's less-heralded rookie, also celebrated his first NHL tally and picked up two assists while veterans Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun also found the back of the net. Joe Pavelski and Jason Demers each had three assists.
San Jose goalie Antti Niemi gave up goals to Rangers forwards Brad Richards and Derek Dorsett while making 18 saves for his third straight win.
The Sharks were able to take advantage of the fact the Rangers are on an extended trip and had played the night before in Los Angeles.
"It's hard to play back-to-back games early in the year, and they've been on the road for a long time," McLellan said. "They have a new coach, they played against a heavy team last night in L.A. We had a game plan to go after them."
Actually, with the help of two San Jose penalties, New York was the first team on the scoreboard.
In his first game back after an offseason injury, Stuart was sent to the penalty box for elbowing Nash just 2:32 into the game, and 31 seconds later the Sharks were whistled for too many men on the ice, giving the Rangers a two-man advantage.
They only needed 24 seconds to take a 1-0 lead on Richards' goal, but that lead didn't last long.
While still on the power play, the Rangers got a little casual, and Vlasic capitalized with a short-handed goal at 4:23. Boyle then launched a shot that caromed off Rangers defenseman Marc Staal past New York starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
In the second period, the Sharks broke the game open with four goals over a 4:16 stretch.
Nieto scored at 8:16, then Hertl nailed his first of the night, redirecting a beautiful centering pass from Andrew Desjardins. Lundqvist, who gave up four goals on 26 shots, was finished for the night as new Ranger coach Alain Vigneault decided Biron was the better option.
Biron didn't have a chance 20 seconds later when a shot bounced off the glass and Couture sneaked in behind the goal and batted the puck into the open net. And at 12:32, the Sharks made it 6-1 on a Hertl breakaway that beat Biron through the five hole.
Dorsett's goal at 8:22 of the third period made it 6-2, but that only seemed to wake up the Sharks -- especially Hertl, who picked up the hat trick at 9:02 and then stunned the crowd with the kind of trick shot usually seen in shootouts at 12:05.
"That's something I don't have in my bag," Thornton said. "That was awfully pretty, eh?"
Sharks (3-0) at Vancouver (3-1),
7 p.m. CSNCA
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