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Game 7 is all San Jose
Sharks advances to Conference Finals with 5-0 win
5/12/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks Western Conference Semi-Finals series wrapped with a hum-dinger of a Game 7 on Thursday night. San Jose came out swinging and powered past the Nashville Predators with a 5-0 pummeling at SAP Center. Five different Sharks put pucks past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne in what was arguably the best playoff performance in franchise history.

From the opening faceoff, the Sharks were relentless. They spent the majority of the opening period in the Nashville zone, peppering Rinne with shots and forcing the Predators back on their heels. It was exactly the start San Jose needed to win the psychological advantage, and put goals on the scoreboard.

It took San Jose 9 minutes to score the game's first goal, but that was due to Rinne's handiwork early. The Predators goaltender faced 7 shots before his own offense managed to throw any rubber at Martin Jones.

Nashville recorded their first shot on goal 8 minutes into the game, and that was a 30 foot backhand chance by Mike Fisher that neither challenged Jones or resembled anything close to a scoring chance.

The Predators finished the period with 3 shots on goal. The only real scoring chance they had in the period was a Colin Wilson shot that sailed over the crossbar with 6 minutes left in the period.

Offense was the order of the day for the Sharks, and they excelled at moving the puck at will in the Nashville zone. Nashville's Game 6 hero, Viktor Arvidsson was sent off at 8:22 after he lifted a puck over the glass a delay of game penalty.

San Jose made quick work on the power play, scoring off a Joe Pavelski snipe from 12 feet as he sat perched even with the right post. Patrick Marleau controlled a Joe Thornton feed from behind the end line, and setup Pavelski for the one-time chance with a shot pass.

A defensive gaff by the Predators aided the Sharks 8 minutes later. Melker Karlsson cleared the puck out of the San Jose zone by bouncing it off the left wing boards. The puck landed directly between Sharks forward Joel Ward and Predators defenseman Roman Josi. As Ward raced up ice, Josi indecisiveness cost him as he got caught flat-footed and missed on a poke check. Ward tapped the puck past Josi then raced in on Rinne where he pushed it through the Predator goaltender's skates for his 2nd goal of the playoffs.

Nashville captain Shea Weber took a bad interference penalty penalty with 1:38 left in the period. The penalty carried over to the 2nd period but San Jose would not cash in. Weber had bigger problems shortly after the penalty expired however.

The Predators defenseman lost the handle on the puck shortly after returning to the ice, allowing Logan Couture to walk in on Rinne with the puck uncontested before snapping a shot home to make it a 3-0 game.

Nashville increased their shot count in the middle period, but not by much. They upped their 3 shot total from the opening period to a 5 shot performance in the 2nd period, but again, nothing of substance challenged Jones. The Sharks goaltender looked downright bored in net.

With their 3-goal lead, the Sharks didn't take any defensive chances, intent on holding their lead and preventing the Predators from generating any incentive to get back into the game.

Late in the middle period Rinne made a questionable decision, trying to play a puck that was a good 60 feet away from the Nashville goal. Sharks forward Nick Spaling raced up ice with Ekholm in pursuit. Ekholm and Spaling came together just as Rinne converged on the spot just outside the Sharks bench. all three players went crashing into each other, with Rinne going sprawling to the ice.

Ekholm took out his frustration on the play by cross-checking Tommy Wingels right before the period horn sounded. Ekholm was none too happy about the penalty, giving referee Brad Watson an ear full as he skated off the ice for the 2nd intermission.

The ensuing power play started with the drop of the puck to start the 3rd period and San Jose capitalized on the man-advantage. Couture pushed a shot on Rinne form the high slot, which was knocked down by the netminder, but Joe Thornton was in the perfect position on the left side to tap the rebound home.

If the Predators had any ideas of making a big 3rd period comeback, Thornton's goal all but squashed those notions. They still leaned on bigger risk taking in the offensive zone to try and generate some semblance of scoring, but that just stung them.

Weber tried to lay a hit on Joonas Donskoi with the puck in the Sharks zone, but that ended up eliminating defensive coverage on the penalty box side of the ice. Donskoi was able to push the puck up ice right as Weber was laying his check, which created a 2-on-1 chance for the Sharks.

Patrick Marleau sent the puck over the left side as he raced up the right wing, receiving a return feed before lifting a shot high on Rinne for the Sharks 5th and final goal of the evening. The goal was Marleau's 4th of the playoffs, and also serve as the play that ended Rinne's season.

Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette made the signal for Rinne to call it a day. The netminder let out his emotions by laying a two handed swing of his stick across the left post. Even that went wrong for Rinne, as his attempt to destroy his lumber failed as miserably as the defense in front of him. It took a second hack to break the stick, before Rinne flung the stick at the end board glass in frustration.

Former Sharks goaltending prospect Carter Hutton replaced Rinne, and was mercifully only required to face a single shot over is 16 minute stint in net. The Sharks were content with killing the clock by dumping the puck into the Predators zone on every remaining possession.

All that remained in the game was the question of the shutout for Jones. The Sharks netminder faced a paltry 20 shots on net, 12 of which came in the final 20 minutes. Nashville refused to accept their fate, skating until the end, but they wouldn't get a puck past Jones.

It was the first career playoff shutout for the Sharks netminder, who is tied for the league led in wins with Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott. The final horn sounded bringing an end to a hard fought series that was capped with the customary handshake line between the two teams.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks improved to 6-4 all-time in Game 7's, 3-1 on home ice.

* San Jose is a perfect 8-0 at home all-time against Nashville in the playoffs and 12-5 overall in their 17 meetings.

* Logan Couture recorded his sixth goal of the series, added two assists and his 17 playoff points rank 1st in the NHL.

* Couture also set a franchise record for points in a single series (11 points) and led all Sharks skaters with four shots on net.

* Joonas Donskoi contributed an assist and now ranks second in rookie scoring with eight points (3g,5a) in the 2016 playoffs.

* Patrick Marleau's goal was the 13th playoff goal of his career against Nashville.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NSH 0 0 0 0
SJ 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 9 (Marleau, Thornton), 9:02, (pp). 2, SJ, Ward 2 (Karlsson, Vlasic), 16:51.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Couture 7 (unassisted), 0:36.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Thornton 3 (Couture), 0:32, (pp). 5, SJ, Marleau 4 (Couture, Vlasic), 3:54.
Penalties
1st period - Arvidsson, NSH (delay of game - puck over glass), 8:22; Weber, NSH (interference), 18:22.
2nd period - Ekholm, NSH (cross checking), 20:00.
3rd period - Braun, SJ (interference), 14:34.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NSH - Rinne 26 21
NSH - Hutton 1 1
SJ - Jones 20 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NSH 3 5 12 20
SJ 17 6 4 27
Power Play Conversion
NSH 0 of 1
SJ 2 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Joe Thornton
Martin Jones
Attendance
17,562
Officials
Referees: O'Rourke, Watson. Linesmen: Miller, Cormier.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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