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Sharks will play Blues as scheduled Saturday after COVID-19 pause

Return to practice with Karlsson, without Hertl

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The San Jose Sharks returned to practice Friday and are scheduled to host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday following a pause caused by NHL COVID-19 protocols.

The Sharks' game against the Vegas Golden Knights scheduled for Thursday at SAP Center in San Jose was postponed after Sharks center Tomas Hertl entered the protocol.

"When we heard of the positive case, we immediately took precaution and the staff went right into safety mode," San Jose coach Bob Boughner said Friday. "And we made sure everybody was safe and closed the facility down and did all the right things when it came to the testing and making sure that we separated everybody. 

"So everybody's been at their house the last couple days and sort of isolated, and it's good news for us is that we're in day three now and we haven't had any more positive cases. ... It was a little bit of a shock. But I think something that you probably knew you're going to deal with at some point in time, just like the rest of society."

Defenseman Erik Karlsson practiced after missing four games with a lower-body inury. He could play Saturday.

Hertl cannot play until he is removed from the NHL protocol list, which could take more than two weeks.

"Selfishly, we'd love to have Tommy back in there," Boughner said. "But, you know, we've got to find a way as other teams have to keep moving forward and being safe and still trying to compete with what we have here in the lineup."

Hertl is resting and is asymptomatic for COVID-19, Boughner said.

"Obviously guys are concerned for him and his family," Sharks captain Logan Couture said. "We all checked in with him and he said he's in good spirits, so that's obviously good news, good news in a bad-news situation. But then your first thought is the rest of guys on the team and staff and all that, so we tested and tested out. So far it looks like things are OK for us, so we just hope that Tommy feels better."

The Sharks played their first home game of the season at SAP Center on Feb. 13 after playing their first 12 on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County, California, that included a ban on contact sports. San Jose held training camp in Arizona because of the ban, which went into effect in November and was lifted Jan. 25.

"It's a bit of a, I want to say a wake-up call, because it hits home when it's in your circle," Boughner said. "But to be honest with you, I mean, we've been very good and very particular about taking the proper precautions about wearing masks, and about having virtual meetings and not getting together as big groups. We've done everything you could possibly do to keep safe. And I think that's probably one of the reasons why, knock on wood, that it's only been one case."

The Golden Knights are scheduled to play at the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Vegas had three games postponed earlier this season due to protocol, including two against San Jose.

The NHL has postponed 41 games this season, including 37 because of COVID-19 protocol. Four games were postponed because of weather-related issues.

NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report

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