SAN JOSE, Calif. – Tomas Hertl is having quite a first week of his NHL career.
Hertl scored four goals, Matthew Nieto had his first NHL goal and added two assists and the San Jose Sharks beat the New York Rangers 9-2 on Tuesday night.
“I’m not even sure he realizes where he is,” Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan said. “He’s a passionate young man and he’s playing freely.”
Hertl saved his best for last. Driving toward the net, the 19-year-old scored a spectacular goal.
He skated in on Martin Biron and put the puck between his legs and scored over the backup goalie’s right shoulder at 12:05 of the third.
“This is a dream,” said Hertl, who practices the shot daily. “This is crazy. I’ve never scored more than two in a game, maybe.”
The outgoing Czech, who does not own a car and is too young to rent one, has made it fun for his teammates.
“That was special,” Sharks’ captain Joe Thornton said. “You don’t see that too often. That’s something I don’t have in my bag. That was pretty. It’s been fun to watch him.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Dan Boyle, Logan Couture and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, who won their third straight of the young season. They have outscored their opponents 17-4.
Jason Demers and Joe Pavelski each had three assists. Hertl tied the Sharks record for most goals in a game. Owen Nolan did it on Dec. 19, 1995.
“Four goals, that’s an awesome night,” Pavelski said. “He’s moving at a high speed. It was exciting for everybody.”
Brad Richards and Derek Dorsett scored for the Rangers, who were coming off a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
San Jose goalkeeper Antti Niemi needed to stop 18 shots for the win while Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist stopped 22 of 26 shots during his nearly 30 minutes on the ice. Biron took over in the net after the Sharks built a 4-1 advantage and saved 16 of 21.
The Sharks outshot the Rangers 47-20.
The nine goals were one off the franchise record.
The Rangers may have lost more than a game. Star forward Rick Nash, who entered the game with three assists, was taken off the ice after getting hit in the right jaw area by Brad Stuart, who was called for elbowing on the play, late in the first period.
“It just didn’t feel right,” Nash said. “I could feel it. Any time you get a head shot you’re concerned. It’s not a good feeling.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said replays showed Stuart’s shoulder coming into contact with Nash’s head and that “it seemed like his feet left the ice. That’s for the league to decide.”
Hertl also had two goals in Saturday’s win over Phoenix.
Richards opened the scoring on Tuesday with his third goal of the season at 3:27 of the first. The Rangers converted their two-man advantage. The long shot was aided by Ryan Callahan, who had screened off Niemi.
“The Sharks were on top of their game,” Vigneault said. “It’s tough to understand, at this point, how we can play so well last night and play this way tonight.
“You think you’re taking a step forward after the way we played last night and obviously we didn’t take a step forward with the way we played tonight.”
The Sharks answered with a short-handed goal less than a minute later, with Vlasic blasting it past Lundqvist.
Boyle gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 7:56 of the first period. Pavelski won a faceoff, Nieto kept it alive and Boyle made the shot.
The Sharks scored three goals within a span of 1:23 of the second period. Nieto scored his first career goal, followed by Hertl’s first of the game.
“It was great to get my first goal,” Nieto said. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m happy for Tomas too. They were all pretty goals.”
Biron was in the game for 20 seconds when Couture scored, though it was hardly a conventional goal. Patrick Marleau’s shot was wide and it bounced up the board and flipped back over the net, where Couture chipped it home.
Hertl added his second goal three minutes later to make it 6-1.
Dorsett scored at 8:22 of the third period and Hertl answered with a power-play goal at 9:02 for the hat trick.
After Hertl’s fourth goal, Braun closed out the scoring with a power-play goal at 15:53.
NOTES: Thornton recorded his 789th career assist, tied for 32nd on the all time list. … Callahan played just his second game since labrum surgery sidelined him last May. … The Rangers are on a franchise record nine-game road trip to open the season because of renovations at Madison Square Garden.