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Sharks find way to force Game 7

AP

After winning Game 5 at home to avoid elimination, Tomas Hertl vowed the San Jose Sharks would return to SAP Center for a seventh and decisive game in their opening round series with the Vegas Golden Knights.

One day later, he clarified it wasn’t necessarily a guarantee, but rather a vote of confidence his team would force a Game 7.

Either way, he came through Sunday to make it happen.

Hertl scored a short-handed goal 11:17 into the second overtime to lift San Jose to a 2-1 win over the Golden Knights, forcing a deciding game in their first-round playoff series.

“At first moment when I get it, I was already a little bit tired, I was thinking maybe just dump it in and change, but I saw a little bit of space, so I just take a couple of steps and try shoot it,” Hertl said. “If you don’t try you never know, so I tried it and it somehow got through, and for sure, huge goal.”

Just 31 seconds after Barclay Goodrow was called for slashing Brayden McNabb, it was Marc-Edouard poking the puck from in front of Jones with a stretch pass down the center of the ice, where a weary Hertl was there to gather the delivery, skate past Vegas’ Shea Theodore and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot to seal the win and force Game 7 on Tuesday at San Jose.

“The only reason it went in because Shea Theodore slashed a stick and you tell your defensemen to play the guy’s stick,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “So, it’s do or die in the next game for both teams.”

Hertl became the first player in NHL history to score a short-handed winner in a postseason game that required multiple overtimes. Only eight other players in league history have scored a short-handed goal in the first overtime of a postseason game.

Logan Couture also scored to get the Sharks on the board just before the end of the first period, when he quickly gathered the puck, maneuvered around Golden Knights defender Nate Schmidt and fired past Fleury to give San Jose a 1-0 with 6.5 seconds left.

“Obviously, it’s a tough one,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who scored Vegas’ lone goal. “I felt like we were the better team, but sometimes these games can feel a little tricky. We definitely kept buzzing and kept going. … Obviously disappointed, I think tonight we should have won, but who cares. Got to go Game 7 and get it done over there.”

Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 2

In Toronto, facing elimination, Boston didn’t panic when it fell behind halfway through the first period. The Bruins kept their focus, quickly tied it and took the lead, and then held off the Maple Leafs to force a Game 7.

Brad Marchand had two goals and an assist to help Boston stay alive in the playoffs.

“We just knew there was a lot of game left,” Marchand said. “We’ve come from behind a lot this year. We weren’t fazed. We came together, played very hard after that. We played a really good game.”

Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk also scored, and David Pastrnak had two assists to help Boston avoid elimination. Tuukka Rask stopped 22 shots.

“(We) gave ourselves another opportunity for another game,” Marchand said. “We got to try to replicate it. They’re going to come hard. They’ve played really well so far in our building this series.”

Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews scored for Toronto in a series in which neither team has managed back-to-back victories and each has won twice on the road. Frederik Andersen finished with 37 saves.