San Jose advanced to their third Conference Finals in the last seven seasons after throttling Nashville in Game 7.
The San Jose Sharks made another statement to the NHL that these aren’t the same old Sharks.
From the drop of the puck in Game 7, team teal simply dominated the visiting Nashville Predators who never stood a chance.
San Jose came at Nashville in waves on Thursday night and rode that momentum to a 5-0 victory in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the firs time since 2011.
The Sharks came out and pushed the pace against this Predators team that could not keep up with the speed and skill of the home team in this one.
In familiar fashion, San Jose would strike first nearly midway through the opening frame when the Game 6 hero Viktor Arvidsson would be in the box following a delay of game penalty.
Team teal’s power play has been dominant in these playoffs and they cashed in tonight when Joe Thornton fed Patrick Marleau who hit Joe Pavelski right in front to one-time one past Pekka Rinne to give the Sharks the early advantage.
San Jose was absolutely flying in the first period as Nashville was barely able to get the puck out of their own zone. The Sharks outshot the Predators by a 17-3 advantage in the opening frame after registering just 18 in all of Game 6.
Team teal would double their lead with a little more than three minutes remaining in the first when big game Joel Ward showed up once again. Ward would chip a puck right around Roman Josi and slam one five-hole on Rinne who had no chance as his defensemen hung him out to dry as they did all night.
With San Jose leading 2-0 after one period of play, they came right out in the second and continued the onslaught.
Shea Weber, who had an absolutely dreadful night for the Predators, turned a puck over to Logan Couture who buried Nashville’s hopes just 36 seconds into the second period for his sixth goal of the series.
It was a historic series for Couture whose 11 points (six goals, five assists) set a new franchise record for points in a playoff series, surpassing Igor Larionov’s 10 points back in 1994.
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While the Sharks might have only registered just six official shots on goal, they really limited the amount of chances the Predators had with the puck.
When they did get a look, Martin Jones was there, recording his first playoff shutout with 20 stops on the night.
In the third, it was time for San Jose to put the icing on the cake. The Sharks opened the period on the power play following a Mattias Ekholm cross-checking penalty at the end of the second period.
Team teal would strike as Couture led a 4-on-1 opportunity after poke-checking a Mike Fisher drop pass intended for Weber. While Rinne stopped Couture’s initial shot, Thornton was there to slam in the rebound and the door on Nashville’s season a mere 32 seconds into the third.
For good measure, Couture would factor in one the score sheet one more time as he would team up with Marleau to end Rinne’s night. Following a bad pinch from Weber at the Sharks blue line, Marleau and Couture exchanged passes on a 2-on-1 before Marleau roofed one to extend the rout for the home side.
The goal signaled the end of the line for Rinne who went on to break his stick against the net before tossing it aside as he made his way to the bench.
It was the perfect illustration of the kind of frustration Nashville felt after an embarrassing effort in this winner-take-all game. Weber and Josi, the top defensive pairing for the Predators, were a combined minus-six and were on the ice for all five goals against. Simply shocking.
San Jose continues onward as they are rewriting the narrative surrounding the boys in teal. Full credit to Nashville who pushed the Sharks in this series, but simply ran into a buzzsaw in the Tank.
The Sharks now move on to face the St. Louis Blues beginning on Sunday night as team teal looks to finally advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.