The Sharks accomplished something they’ve never done before: They advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.
This is arguably a different Sharks team.
“It’s hard to say. Every year’s different, every team’s different. You try to learn from your experiences you’d like to not have to,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “But that’s the course we’ve taken. And now that we’re here, it’s a great step for us. . .It was fun out there tonight. It was exciting. The building was great. The fans were great. But we realize there’s more out there.”
St. Louis has been down this road before. The Blues played in an elimination game for the third time in the playoffs this year. They beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 in the first round and the Dallas Stars in Game 7 in the second round.
The Blues creeped up to the Sharks midway through the third period. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals in a span of less than five minutes for a late rally. The game was pretty close, it went down to the wire, and San Jose toiled to keep its lead.
Joe Pavelski jammed home the puck after a successful wraparound attempt, beating Brian Elliott for his 13th goal of the playoffs — the most in franchise history. The Sharks took an early 1-0 lead 3:47 into the first period.
San Jose outshot St. Louis 9-5 in the first period and the score after 20 minutes was 1-0 Sharks.
Joel Ward made a brilliant redirection on Brent Burns’ shot from the point to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 5:02 of the second period.
The Sharks led the Blues 2-0 after two periods.
Ward tipped in a Logan Couture feed past the left skate of Elliott to tally his second goal of the game and sixth goal of the playoffs, extending the Sharks’ lead 3-0 just 3:01 into the third period.
Ward scored two goals and now has four goals in his last two games.
Joonas Donskoi fired a rapid shot past Elliott on the feed from Logan Couture to expand the Sharks’ lead 4-0 at 8:11 with his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Donskoi ranks second amongst all rookies with nine points (5g, 4a) in the playoffs.
Vladimir Tarasenko corralled the puck with his skate and roofed one past Martin Jones to finally put the Blues on the board. However, the Sharks continued to lead St. Louis, 4-1.
Tarasenko banked a hard-angle shot off Jones and in for his second goal of the game, bringing the Blues within two at 16:25.
The Blues pulled their goalie for the extra attacker and the Sharks took advantage. Couture sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 20 seconds left in the game.
The Sharks punched a ticket to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Blues in Game 6 at SAP Center.
Martin Jones made 24 saves for the Sharks. Brian Elliott made 22 saves for the Blues.
The Sharks won the Clarence Campbell Bowl as the Western Conference Champion.
“Just trying to seize the moment,” forward Patrick Marleau said.
Although the Sharks earned a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, there’s still work that needs to be done.
“It’s not the end goal,” center Joe Thornton said. “I’ll tell you that.”
Coach Peter DeBoer remained neutral in his press conference.
“First off, hats off to St. Louis and the fight they put up and how hard they made us work for this series. I know I joked around a lot. Hitchcock and I went back and forth about adjustments, but he made us work for everything in this series. Their team played until the buzzer tonight. They had an exceptional season despite all the injuries they’ve had,” DeBoer said. “Hats off to them.”
Logan Couture contributed three points (1g, 2a) and leads the NHL with 24 points in the 2016 playoffs.
Joe Thornton tallied his sixth assist of the series and now ranks second in the NHL with 15 assists in the playoffs.
Patrick Marleau posted two assists, including one on the game-winning goal by Joel Ward.
Tomas Hertl posted an assist and led all skaters with three takeaways.
Brent Burns posted an assist, finished a +4 and led all skaters with three blocked shots.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney each tallied assists in the win. Vlasic also led all Sharks skaters with 25:01 played.
Dainius Zubrus led all Sharks skaters with six hits.
Up Next: The Sharks will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.