SAN JOSE — The Sharks were staring right at a three-game losing streak — with a couple of tough opponents directly ahead of them — when they trailed the Calgary Flames by two goals early in the second period of Tuesday’s game at SAP Center.
They responded with one of their gutsiest comeback efforts of the season.
Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl all scored in a span of 8:02 in the second period as the Sharks erased a two-goal deficit and earned a huge 5-3 win over the Flames to start a seven-game homestand.
The Sharks ended their road trip last week with regulation-time losses to the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Feels good right now after a tough end to our road trip there,” said Couture, who had a goal and two assists and now has 600 career NHL points. “Both games that we lost on that road trip, there was a sour taste left in our mouth a little bit.
“Down 3-1, it could have gone either way. Proud of the way that we stuck with it.”
Hertl added an empty-net goal with 41.2 seconds left to seal the victory and give him his first hat trick this season and the fourth of his NHL career.
Hertl had gone a season-long five games without a point before he scored against the Blue Jackets on Sunday. He now has 163 goals in 529 NHL games.
“You don’t play that long in this league and have that much success and just all of a sudden the switch goes off,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said of Hertl. “it was just a matter of time.”
Trailing 3-1 early in the second period, Karlsson scored on a breakaway at the 10:08 mark after he came out of the penalty box and Couture scored a power-play goal 4:19 later to tie the game.
Hertl then scored his second of the game and team-leading 11th of the season, pouncing on a rebound after an Alexander Barabanov shot on net was saved by Flames goalie Dan Vladar.
“Every player in this league goes through ups and downs and when he’s hot, man, he’s so good and so important for our team,” Couture said of Hertl. “That goal in Columbus was a big goal for him, just to let him feel good about his game and about himself.”
Barabanov also assisted on Hertl’s first-period power-play goal and Adin Hill had 25 saves through two periods as the Sharks earned their second regulation-time win over Calgary this season.
Hill finished with 40 saves, and was also in net Nov. 9 at the Saddledome in Calgary, making 37 saves in a 4-1 Sharks win.
The Sharks’ homestand, which takes them right through the Christmas break, continues with games against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Both the Wild and Stars are on seven-game winning streaks.
The Sharks trailed 2-1 after the first period as Dillon Dube and Johnny Gaudreau both scored for the Flames and Hertl replied with a power-play goal for San Jose.
Calgary scored on its first shot. After a Sharks’ neutral zone turnover, Milan Lucic took control of the puck to the right of the San Jose net and sent a centering pass to Dube, who chipped it past Hill just 97 seconds into the first period.
Hertl got that goal back with his second goal in as many games. With the Sharks on the power play, Barabanov sent a seam pass through to Hertl, who fired it past a screened Dan Vladar for his 10th of the season.
The Flames retook the lead after the Sharks lost a battle for the puck behind their net. Matthew Tkachuk then took control and sent it out front through his legs to an open Gaudreau, who went forehand to backhand to beat Hill from in close for his 10th of the season.
Flames forward Adam Ruzicka then scored his first NHL goal at the 4:31 mark of the second period, giving his team a 3-1 lead — after he was left alone in front of the Sharks’ net.
Those types of defensive breakdowns were what the Sharks needed to avoid Tuesday.
The Sharks desperately wanted to get back to their tight-checking identity after their 6-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. The Sharks weren’t as careful with the puck as they needed to be and allowed a few odd-man rushes as they closed out a five-game road trip with six of a possible 10 points.
The Flames entered Tuesday as the NHL’s best road team with an 11-3-2 record. Overall, they were tied for the Western Conference lead with 35 points.
“They’re a much heavier team to play against than last year,” Boughner said of the Flames on Tuesday morning. “A pretty simple team with some good, high-end skill in their top six. But you look at the bottom part of their lineup and their (defense), they’re big men and they’re getting great goaltending.”