Hertl comes up huge as Sharks squeak by Avs in Game 5

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For an uncomfortable stretch of Round 2, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Philipp Grubauer. Leave it to the Sharks most snake-bitten star to get it done in their tight 2-1 win in Game 5.

Tomas Hertl managed two assists through the first four games against the Colorado Avalanche, but for plenty, his lack of goals were glaring. Maybe he’s simply the hearty type of player who takes over a series during its later stages, because Hertl came up huge with both of the Sharks’ goals in that 2-1 win on Saturday, taking a 3-2 series lead against the Avs.

(Hertl scored four goals and one assist for five points in the last three games of that thrilling seven-game series against the Golden Knights, in case you were wondering.)

Both of Hertl’s goals were huge, naturally. Normally you’d fixate on the game-winner more than anything else, yet the first goal had to have taken a heavy weight off of San Jose’s shoulders. Hertl scored with just 20 seconds remaining in the second period to make it 1-1, giving the Sharks their first goal since late in Game 3.

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Both goalies were pretty fantastic overall. Grubauer was especially impressive in making 37 out of 39 stops in defeat, yet while Martin Jones wasn’t anywhere near as busy, he was frequently called upon to make some high-difficulty saves among his 21.

Maybe the first bullet point for Jones is that he kept Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, and Cale Makar off of the scoreboard. This ended MacKinnon’s remarkable run of playoff points at eight games.

The scene now switches to Colorado with the Avs’ impressive season on the line. MacKinnon, Grubauer, and the rest of the Avalanche sure aren’t playing like they’re just “happy to be there,” not with how hard they’re working. They’ll almost certainly need to play even better against the Sharks to force a Game 7, however.

Game 6 takes place on Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN (stream here).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.