Sharks tie Blues in conference finals 1-1

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Sharks tie Blues in conference finals 1-1

Graphic by Kristiana Federe/The Pioneer

Graphic by Kristiana Federe/The Pioneer

Graphic by Kristiana Federe/The Pioneer

Erik Khan,
Staff Writer

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The San Jose Sharks are in their first Conference Finals since 2011, against the St. Louis Blues. The series is tied 1-1 after the Sharks secured a 4-0 victory in game 2 on Tuesday.

The Sharks got here by defeating the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs and having recently defeated the Nashville Predators. They took care of the Kings in five games, but were pushed to seven games by the Predators, who were led by goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The Sharks took care of business in game one at home, defeating the Predators 5-2 behind a strong effort from center shooter Logan Couture, who scored two goals. Couture currently leads the NHL in points during the 2016 playoffs, at 324. The Sharks trailed 1-0 entering the third period but were able to score five consecutive goals to bury the Predators.

In game two, the Sharks defended home ice once again and took a 2-0 series lead. They led 1-0 entering the third period, after Couture netted a powerplay goal late in the second period. The Predators tied it up with seven minutes remaining, but Joe Pavelski snagged a rebound and threw it into the net to put the Sharks ahead for good with two minutes left.

When the series shifted to Nashville, the Sharks’ fortune did the same. They were thoroughly outplayed in game three, losing 4-1 despite leading 1-0. Rinne was a wall in the net, stopping 26 of the Sharks’ attempts. Forward Patrick Marleau scored the Sharks’ lone goal.

In a tightly contested game 4, the Sharks lost in triple overtime by a score of 4-3. Brent Burns scored twice, and Joonas Donskoi scored the other. Rinne shined again, stopping 44 of the Sharks’ 47 shots. This was the longest game of the 2015-2016 NHL season.

The Sharks brought their A-game in a crucial game 5 and secured a 3-2 series lead by winning 5-1. Couture, Marleau and Melker Karlsson each scored a goal while Pavelski added two.

The series then shifted back to Nashville, and the Sharks had the opportunity to put away the Predators for good. However, they were unable to do so, losing 4-3. The Sharks took a 3-2 series lead late in the third period, but the Predators quickly tied it up. In overtime, Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson ripped a backhander past Sharks goalie Martin Jones that caused the Bridgestone Arena to erupt with cheers.

There’s nothing better in sports than a good old fashioned game 7, and the Sharks weren’t about to disappoint the “Shark Tank” faithful. Pavelski ripped a power play goal halfway through the first period, and the Sharks didn’t look back, winning the game 5-0. Jones posted his first shutout of the postseason and Couture, Joel Ward, Pavelski, Marleau and Joe Thornton all scored for the Sharks. After Marleau’s goal, which made it a 5-0 game, Rinne destroyed his stick by repeatedly banging it against the goal post out of frustration.

The Sharks series lead against the Blues comes as no surprise, as they beat the Blues two out three times during the regular season. In their lone loss to the Blues, the Sharks were shutout by goalie Brian Elliot. Being shutout in any of the remaining games would come as a surprise when you consider that the Sharks are leading the NHL in goals scored during the postseason, averaging 3.42 per game.

The series shifts back to the Shark Tank tonight at 6 p.m. for game 3 of the series.