SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Tomas Hertl needed just three games to get his first NHL hat trick. It was more than a five-year wait for the second one, which came while he’s playing perhaps the best hockey of his career.
Hertl knocked down Evgeni Malkin with his backside to score his first goal, got the second off a rebound and capped a big night with an empty-net goal that gave him 100 for his career and sealed the seventh straight win for the San Jose Sharks, 5-2 over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
“It was wild. It was over five years,” Hertl said. “I scored it in my third game. It had been a while. It’s always fun and guys were just looking for me. I had an easy job on the last one and just knocked it in.”
Joe Thornton celebrated his 1,000th game for San Jose with a goal, Marcus Sorensen also scored and Evander Kane had three assists as the Sharks improved to 16-3-2 in their past 21 games with a convincing victory over the dangerous Penguins.
Martin Jones made 22 saves to tie a career best by winning his eighth straight start.
“I thought that was as complete a game as we’ve played all year,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought our defense was solid, Jonesy was solid, special teams. And we did get contributions from all four lines. I really thought, especially the second period, we really set the game up for ourselves with how well we played.”
Kris Letang and Derick Brassard scored for the Penguins, who have lost two in a row following a stretch of 10 wins in 11 games. Matt Murray stopped 24 shots but had his career-high nine-game winning streak snapped.
“They brought their A game tonight,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “They were really good. They’re one of the better teams we’ve played this season. They outplayed us all over the rink. We weren’t good enough and I know we are better than that. We didn’t execute tonight.”
One game after Brent Burns capped his 1,000th career game with a game-winning goal for San Jose, Thornton made the most of his milestone appearance as well by scoring in the second period. After Sorensen drew a delayed penalty, the Sharks set up in the offensive zone. Joe Pavelski fed Thornton in the slot for a one-timer that beat Murray to give him 18 seasons with at least 10 goals.
That led to another long ovation for Thornton, who received one in the first period when a tribute for his 1,000th game in San Jose was shown on the videoboard.
“Jumbo’s breaking a record every shift, so we’re kind of getting sick and tired of it as a group,” Kane quipped. “Every time out. His 1,000th game as a Shark, passing (Mario) Lemieux, (Wayne) Gretzky and whoever else on whatever other list he’s climbing. It’s good to see him find the back of the net. A big one-timer there. That was a big goal to help us extend the lead.”
Brassard scored late for the Penguins after Murray had been pulled, but it wasn’t enough as the Sharks restored their three-goal lead with Hertl’s empty-netter.
The Penguins opened the scoring when Letang finished a brilliant end-to-end rush by skating around Erik Karlsson and beating Jones with a backhand. But the Sharks got most of the chances after that and took control with two quick goals of their own.
They tied the game when Karlsson’s shot from the top of the circle deflected off Sorensen and into the net. San Jose took the lead with a highlight-reel goal from Hertl, who got the puck in the corner, knocked down Malkin, skated toward the middle, deked Jack Johnson and beat Murray to the far side.
“They outdid us in every zone,” Penguins forward Phil Kessel said. “Obviously, we didn’t do the little things right. They got to our net a lot. They got some rebound goals. Offensively we didn’t create enough opportunities for our guys.”
NOTES: Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi played after missing the final two periods Saturday with an apparent head injury. … San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed his sixth straight game with an undisclosed injury.
Penguins: Visit the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sharks: At the Coyotes on Wednesday.
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