Without Tomas Hertl, Sharks try to get back at Flames

Winning games is hard enough these days for the San Jose Sharks, but the next couple of outings — including Tuesday’s home clash with the Calgary Flames — will be made all the more difficult with Tomas Hertl’s suspension.

Hertl, who is second on the Sharks in scoring with 32 points, received a two-game ban on Monday for slashing Flames forward Elias Lindholm in the face early in the third period on Sunday. Hertl, who collected one goal and one assist in the game, was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for high-sticking on the play.

Lindholm scored 10 seconds into the ensuing power play with the eventual game-winning goal in a 5-2 Calgary victory.

Hertl said he was frustrated because Lindholm cross-checked him in the arm.

“I just tried to slash him on the stick,” Hertl told the San Jose Mercury News. “The stick flew a little high, it’s a terrible penalty. I don’t think I even had him close to the face, but it looks bad. A mistake by me, can’t do that. You never try to hit a guy high, but it happens.”

The Sharks play host to the Flames in the second part of a two-game set and will look to rebound after a game in which Calgary led 2-1 before the Hertl penalty. It then broke things open with three goals in less than two minutes, two of them by Lindholm coming 19 seconds apart.

“It changed quickly,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We felt pretty good about the way the game was going. We felt the second period was a pretty even period. In a blink of an eye it’s 4-1.

“It’s a good hockey team. I know they’ve had their struggles from a record standpoint, but that’s a team that plays fast and heavy, and they make you earn everything you have.”

The Flames snapped a five-game losing skid (0-2-3) with the victory, the first clash in a four-game California road trip before the Christmas break.

Considering the club’s offensive struggles of late, the three-goal third period could be seen as breakout performance.

“The relief would be from the guys who scored. As I said, good to see Looch (Milan Lucic) score and Lindy (Lindholm),” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “And whoever Lindy played with (Sunday) were really good.”

Lucic snapped a 50-game scoring drought in the win, but the veteran Flames winger knows full well team success is far more important these days.

“It’s obviously good to contribute offensively, but the main thing is getting a big win here to start off the road trip,” said Lucic, who was recently a healthy scratch for three games. “This is a huge time of year for us — a huge road trip for us before the Christmas break starts — and we wanted to make sure we brought one of our best road games.”

The Flames are also looking at potential roster changes for the contest. On a positive note, defenseman Chris Tanev may return to action having missed three games after being hit in the head by a puck while blocking a shot.

Calgary needs the reinforcement, as a pair of defensemen were injured in Sunday’s game. Nikita Zadorov appeared to be hit in the wrist while blocking a shot, while Dennis Gilbert left the game following a second-period fight with Jonah Gadjovich. Both blueliners were absent from Monday’s practice.

–Field Level Media