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San Jose Sharks top St. Louis Blues, advance to first Stanley Cup Final

By
Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Blues' Paul Stastny holds back San Jose Sharks' Joel Ward. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
St. Louis Blues' Paul Stastny holds back San Jose Sharks' Joel Ward. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks are going to finish their silver anniversary season chasing that big silver chalice.

The Stanley Cup Final is coming to San Jose.

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Joel Ward scored two goals and Martin Jones stopped 24 of 26 shots as the Sharks eliminated the St. Louis Blues with a 5-2 win in Game 6 on Wednesday at SAP Center.

Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture also scored in the clinching game for San Jose.

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By virtue of winning the Western Conference title, the Sharks advance to their first appearance in the NHL's ultimate series. San Jose will open the Stanley Cup Final against the winner of Thursday's Game 7 between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Ward scored his second goal of the game and sixth of the playoff series at 3:01 of the third period by deflecting a Couture feed past Blues goalie Brian Elliott.

Donskoi iced it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 8:11 by converted another Couture pass. And Couture capped a three-point night with an empty-net goal with 19.7 seconds left.

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The Blues snapped Jones attempt at a third shutout of the series when St. Louis' regular-season leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko finally registered his first point of the series with a goal at 11:39 and scored again with an extra attacker at 16:25.

The Sharks scored the only goal of the second period to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

Ward gained inside position on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to redirect a soft wrist shot by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns from the right point past Elliott at 5:02 of the middle period.

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The Sharks scored the only goal of a first period. Pavelski scored his NHL playoff-leading 13th goal on a wrap-around at 3:57. He outmuscled Pietrangelo to backhand a shot along the ice as Elliott couldn't keep his left pad tight against the near post.

The goal came following a close call for the Blues moments earlier. Center Paul Stastny fired from the mid-slot, but Jones got a piece of it and San Jose center Tomas Hertl quickly moved the puck to Pavelski, who tapped it at center ahead to Joe Thornton.

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Thornton broke in alone on Elliott, but his drive went over the cage. Thornton outworked Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to make a short pass to Pavelski, and the San Jose captain did the rest.

NOTES: In addition to G Brian Elliott returning between the pipes in Game 6, RW Scottie Upshall replaced RW Magnus Paajarvi up front for the Blues. Paajarvi played the previous three games, his first appearances in the postseason, and had one assist. Upshall, a healthy scratch since Paajarvi returned, had one goal and three points during St. Louis' first 16 playoff games. ... LW Matt Nieto missed his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury. ... San Jose RW Joe Pavelski brought a six-game point streak (four goals, five assists) in Game 6. Pavelski led the NHL in playoff goals with 12 while teammate C Logan Couture led in points with 21 before Wednesday's game. ... C Steve Ott, RW Ty Rattie, C Chris Butler, D Peter Harrold, D Robert Bortuzzo, D Petteri Lindbohm, RW Ryan Reeves and Paajarvi were healthy scratches for the Blues. ... C Micheal Haley, D Dylan DeMelo and D Matt Tennyson were San Jose's healthy scratches.

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