SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks never gave the Nashville Predators a chance in Game 7 of their second-round series.
There was never a moment of worry in SAP Center or any thought San Jose would allow the scrappy Predators to prevent them on their quest to show this team was different than past playoff flameouts.
The Sharks pounced, scored early and kept on the pressure in a dominating 5-0 closeout victory.
Overall the Sharks outshot the Predators 27-20 and dominated posession in the early going and Nashville never mounted a challenge.
San Jose will face off against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final in a matchup of teams that have struggled to take the next step in the postseason.
This is San Jose’s first conference final appearance since they went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 they were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks and in 2011 they were beat in five games by the Vancouver Canucks.
The Sharks came out buzzing in the first period, never stopped doing so and overall took advantage of some sluggish play by the Predators top defense pair of Roman Josi and Shea Weber.
On the power play with 10:58 left in the first period, Sharks forward Joe Pavelski took a feed from Patrick Marleau in front of the Nashville net and buried a shot past Pekka Rinne. Pavelski was open because Weber dropped down to block the shot rather than playing Pavelski. This made the score 1-0.
Then with 3:09 left in the in the first, San Jose forward Joel Ward beat Josi to the puck, faked Rinne and slid it into the net through Rinne’s five-hole.
In the second period Weber turned the puck over to Sharks forward Logan Couture in the defensive zone. Couture then buried a shot past Rinne five-hole to make the game 3-0.
Joe Thornton's power play goal early in the third period, came after Weber fell down in the offensive zone, which led to a 4-on-1 rush.
Marleau's goal in the third period came after a pinch by Weber sent a 2-on-1 going the other way for the Sharks.
Rinne was so angry after Marleau's goal he broke his stick and tossed it.
The Predators had some chances, but ultimately couldn’t cash in on them to get back in the game. When the Sharks were up 1-0 in the first, Colin Wilson took a feed in front of the net and shot it high over Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.
Just before Ward’s goal the Predators had a chance with Jones down in front but they couldn’t get it past the San Jose netminder.
These were the types of goals Nashville had scored in previous situations this playoffs when down in order to help get the team back in the game when they were being out-shot and out-chanced.
The play of Weber and Josi, specifically Weber, will be a major takeaway from the Predators in this game. Weber is the team’s captain and a three-time Norris Trophy finalist. They expect him to deliver in games like this and he simply didn’t.
Weber is on a long-term contract he signed as an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers that runs through 2025-26.
No matter how deep the Predators went this playoff, winning a Game 7 and forcing another, they’ve never gotten past a second-round in Weber’s tenure as captain. The longest they had gone before was six games in the second-round in 2011. Weber was named captain before the 2010-11 season.
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