Tomas Hertl goes Mark Messier, guarantees Sharks will force Game 7 vs. Vegas


Tomas Hertl had plenty of reasons to feel confident Thursday night.

He arguably was the Sharks' best player in a season-extending 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Hertl scored two goals, and finished the night with five shots on goal (tied for first on the Sharks), nine attempts (first), six scoring chances (tied-first) and two high-danger chances (tied for fourth). 

That confidence extended to his postgame interview with NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker, when Hertl pulled a Mark Messier and guaranteed that the Sharks would force a Game 7.

"We know we have one more game and come back for Game 7, and I believe it because we're a better team than them," Hertl told Baker with a smile. 

The Sharks-Golden Knights series has had no shortage of trash talk, most of which stemmed from Evander Kane -- and the rest of the Sharks -- beefing with Vegas enforcer Ryan Reaves. Hertl's guarantee could add to the bulletin-board material, but he also could follow in Messier's footsteps a quarter-century later. 

[RELATED: Stop the presses! Sharks take first lead since Game 1]

Twenty-five years ago next month, Messier guaranteed his New York Rangers would win Game 6 on the road against the rival New Jersey Devils and force a do-or-die Game 7 in Madison Square Garden. Messier delivered with a natural hat trick in a third period that began with the Rangers trailing 2-1. 

Hertl replicating his Game 5 performance -- or Messier's historic one -- in Game 6 would go a long way toward the Sharks fending off elimination once more.

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