Injury-riddled Sharks must face hot Lightning

Sharks
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The injury report just keeps getting longer for the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t bode well for Saturday night’s home game against the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning.

With captain Logan Couture already out with a fractured left ankle, the Sharks lost fellow forward Tomas Hertl, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the first period of a 5-2 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday. The San Jose Mercury News reported Hertl is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday.

Hertl, who had five goals at the NHL All-Star Game, scored early in the first period against Vancouver before getting hurt when ridden into the end boards after having a backhanded shot stopped.

“It (stinks) for the player,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner told the newspaper. “He’s dealt with some injuries in the past and he’s come back from them, and he’ll come back from this one as well.

“It’s just depressing. You’re coming off that All-Star Game where you had five goals, and then you play a game like (he) did, he started against Vancouver, I thought he was the best player on the ice, and he deals with something on a very harmless play. So it’s bad luck.”

Hertl had surgery to repair damaged ligaments in his right knee as a rookie in 2013-14 and after suffering a sprained right knee in the 2016-17 season.

“He’s been down this avenue before, which is tough, so he knows what kind of goes into the rehab,” Sharks teammate Joe Thornton told NHL.com. “But I told him, he’s young (26) — I went through two myself — and he’s going to heal quick and hopefully be ready for training camp next year.

“But we have so much love for him that, he knows he’s not alone in this, which is very, very important as well. The guys will take good care of him.”

The Sharks had won four straight at home before Wednesday’s loss.

The Lightning won 4-3 Friday night at Anaheim as Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for his fifth consecutive multi-point game, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 23 shots for his 150th NHL victory.

Vasilevskiy, who has 13 consecutive wins in regulation, is the fourth goalie in league history to reach 150 victories in fewer than 250 games, tied for third at 246 games. The others are Ken Dryden (241), Andy Moog (245) and Braden Holtby (246).

“You look in the last few years here, we have some special players on this team, and he is right at the top,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s great to see him being rewarded like that.”

Kucherov scored what proved to be the winner midway through the third period, taking a stretch pass from Steven Stamkos at the Anaheim blue line before outmuscling a defender and putting a backhander over the goalie’s left shoulder.

“It was an unbelievable play,” Tampa Bay defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “I think the way he takes that pass initially and kind of sneaks through both of those guys. He does a tremendous job of hiding his stick and not showing the goalie which way he is going to put it. To put it top shelf was a pretty sick move.”

The Lightning are 7-0-0 against the Pacific Division this season and are 14-2-1 in their past 17 games overall.

–Field Level Media

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