SAN JOSE -- Playing on the top line with the two Joes, Thornton and Pavelski, means that San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl rarely grabs the spotlight.
But that's exactly what he did in the Sharks' 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Thursday.
Hertl gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead late in the first period and made it 3-0 with a goal 6:09 into the third. It was his first career multigoal game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I think he was flying around the ice today," said rookie forward Joonas Donskoi, who San Jose's other goal midway through the second period. "It's great to see he's playing that well. I think we have good balance with older guys who can turn the games for us, but we still have young guys who can step up when we need to."
The 22-year-old has five goals in this year's playoffs, which continue with Game 4 on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports), after scoring 21 during the regular season.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Hertl hammers slap shot past Elliott
Hertl scored what proved to be the game-winner at 15:53 of the first period, taking a cross-ice pass from Pavelski and beating Brian Elliott with a slap shot from the left circle to put San Jose ahead 1-0.
"He's been jumping all postseason," Pavelski said of Hertl, a native of the Czech Republic who was taken by the Sharks in the first round (No. 17) of the 2012 NHL Draft. "He's been good. He's had some good looks. Then he comes down and gets that little extra second. That's as hard as I've seen him shoot it. It's great to see it go in. It really gave us a great jump start."
Hertl wasn't done. He gave the Sharks a commanding lead with 13:51 left to play. Thornton got him the puck below the goal line, and he quickly moved in front of the crease and scored on a wrist shot.
"He's an amazing passer," Hertl said of Thornton. "I was just waiting. I saw him looking at me. I was waiting for a pass. I just tried to go to the net and shoot."
Thornton was impressed by Hertl's effort on the third goal.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm3: Hertl slips puck past Elliott
"I'm just always looking for him or looking for [Pavelski]," he said. "Usually they do a great job of getting open. ... It's my job to get those guys the puck. What a play by him to put it in."
Hertl spent most of his time early in the season as the second-line center, filling in while Logan Couture recovered from a broken ankle and a thigh injury. Couture returned in early January, and Sharks coach Peter DeBoer moved Hertl to left wing on the top line.
"They played together before," DeBoer said of Hertl, Thornton and Pavelski. "They've had some success before in previous regimes with Todd [McLellan], previous coaching staffs. I knew there was a little bit of history there.
"At the time Tomas Hertl had played center for us [for] 25, 30 games, filling in for Couture. I thought he was playing very well but wasn't getting rewarded offensively. The initial thought was to try to get his confidence going offensively. It kind of snowballed to what we have today."