(The Sports Xchange) – The San Jose Sharks advanced to the Western Conference final after routing the Nashville Predators 5-0 in Game 7 of their semi-final series at SAP Center on Thursday.
The victory saw the Sharks advance to a matchup against the St. Louis Blues in the best-of-seven West final that will send the winner on to play for the Stanley Cup.
Game 1 will be on Sunday in St. Louis.
The Sharks will be making their fourth appearance in the West finals, and first since going back-to-back in 2010 and 2011. San Jose are seeking their first conference crown.
The Blues and Sharks have met four times in the postseason, only in the first round, with each team winning twice. San Jose won two of three regular-season meeting this year.
Leading by three going into the final period, the Sharks took advantage of defenseman Mattias Ekholm’s cross-check of Tommy Wingels at the horn of the second period.
Center Joe Thornton tapped home a rebound left on a Logan Couture shot when San Jose broke on 4-on-1 after intercepting a Mike Fisher drop pass just inside the San Jose blue line.
Thornton’s third goal of the postseason came 32 seconds into the third.
Patrick Marleau capped a 2-on-1 break with Couture to score his fourth of the playoffs at 3:54 after Nashville defenseman Shea Weber got caught on a pinch.
Marleau’s 64th career playoff goal chased starting Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who broke his stick on the crossbar after the goal.
San Jose goalie Martin Jones stopped all 20 shots Nashville produced for his first career playoff shutout.
The Sharks scored the only two goals of an opening period they dominated from start to finish.
Joe Pavelski potted his ninth goal of the playoffs with a one-timer from 10 feet on the power play after taking a pass from Marleau, who was behind the net.
Joel Ward made it 2-0 when he picked Nashville defenseman Roman Josi’s pocket at the visitors’ blue line. Rinne was unable to stop a half-speed shot following a stickhandling move at 16:51.
Couture scored his seventh goal of the playoffs and fifth of the series just 36 seconds into the second period to give the hosts a 3-0 lead they would nurse throughout the middle period.
Couture pounced when the puck slipped off the stick of Weber, and the speedy center broke in alone to beat Rinne with a low shot inside the near post.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
Source: Reuters Sports