Sharks suffer another significant injury in loss to Coyotes, Burns plays forward

SAN JOSE — The injury bug continues to sweep through the Sharks dressing room as the team attempts to survive a tightly-packed Western Conference playoff race.

Tomas Hertl left Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center and did not return after taking a hit into the boards from Nick Cousins that appeared to injure his right shoulder, arm or hand. The 24-year-old forward skated off the ice in the dying seconds of the first holding his right hand with his left after taking off his right glove.

The Sharks are already trying to make due without Joe Thornton, who injured his right knee on Jan. 23, and Joel Ward, who suffered a right-shoulder injury on Feb. 8. Marcus Sorensen, who’s played 18 games with the Sharks this season, also went down with an upper-body injury while playing for the AHL Barracuda last weekend.

With so many forwards sidelined by injury, head coach Pete DeBoer moved defenseman Brent Burns back to forward for a large chunk of the third period.

The Sharks latest injury is particularly disappointing considering that Hertl was putting together a breakthrough season after battling knee issues in three of his first four NHL seasons. Hertl underwent surgery to repair the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee during his rookie season after taking a knee-to-knee hit from Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown on Dec. 19, 2013.

The Czech forward also missed the last four games of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final after he re-injured his right knee in a collision with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist in Game 2 of the series. He missed 33 more games last season to undergo a surgical procedure after he sprained his right knee on a check from Jori Lehtera.

Hertl currently ranks second on the Sharks in goals (15) and fifth in points. His move to Logan Couture’s left wing in the third game of the season kickstarted the Sharks offense in the wake of Patrick Marleau’s departure to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After the Sharks morning practice Tuesday, head coach Pete DeBoer said that Hertl has been a “real important player” for the team this season.

“His game’s growing. He’s maturing as a player and a person,” the Sharks coach said. “The good thing is I see more upside here.”

With the loss, the Sharks failed to capitalize on an opportunity to build on their two-point lead over the Calgary Flames …read more

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