The San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup for the first time in their existence after a 5-2 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.
Congratulations to the Sharks as they upset both the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and the Blues this round to take the Western Conference crown.
Look for James O’Brien’s Dose tomorrow as the Penguins and Lightning play Game 7 in Pittsburgh with the winner getting home ice advantage when they play for the Stanley Cup starting Monday.
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SAN JOSE 5 ST. LOUIS 2 (San Jose wins series 4-2)
Joel Ward scored twice for the second game in a row to lead the Sharks to a 5-2 home ice win over St. Louis and win the Western Conference Final in six games.
The two goals, including the game winner, give Ward six in the 2016 playoffs and 11 points in 18 games, proving the Sharks made a great off-season pickup when they inked him to a three-year/$9.75 million deal a couple of days after free agent frenzy started. The former Capital was made expendable by Washington when they signed Justin Williams to a free agent contract on July 1.
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring on a nice wraparound after Joe Thornton missed on breakaway. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott could not get back in time to hold the post and Pavelski just put it past him.
That ended the scoring in the first and Ward scored the only goal of the second when he made a gorgeous tip-in of a Brent Burns point shot. Elliott had no chance on the goal and the Sharks led 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Ward scored the eventual winner 3:01 into the third as he shoveled a Logan Couture pass past the outstretched skate of Elliott to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead.
Joonas Donskoi wristed a shot past Elliott to make it 4-0 at the 8:11 mark of the third and it seemed like the rout was on.
But Vladimir Tarasenko scored his first two goals of the series, one at the 11:39 mark of the third on a nice setup from behind the net from Jori Lehtera and then he cut the lead to two with 3:35 to go as he banked a shot in off Martin Jones blocker from a tough angle causing many in the Shark Tank to get nervous.
But that’s as close as the Blues got and the Sharks iced it with 20 seconds to go when Couture scored into the empty net.
Martin Jones stopped 24 shots for his 12th win in the post-season. He has been a great acquisition by the Sharks who picked up the former backup goalie to Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, from Boston for a first round pick and Sean Kuraly. This was a week after the Bruins acquired him for Milan Lucic from the Kings.
Brian Elliott returned to the Blues net after a two game absence and gave up four on 26 shots. He will continue to battle Jake Allen for the number one spot in St. Louis next season unless one gets traded.
The Sharks had 18 blocked shots, four more than the Blues.
The lack of power plays continued as the Sharks were 0-3 and the Blues did not score on their only opportunity. There have been so many games in the playoffs where there has been five or less power plays all game.
It’s back to the drawing board for St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock as the Blues did not advance to the Cup Final yet again. There is a lot of talent in St. Louis but they cannot seem to get over the hump. Of course that was said about the Sharks on many occasions before this season.