The field for the conference finals in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs is complete after the San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 at SAP Center on Wednesday to win Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round.
Sharks center and captain Joe Pavelski, making his return after missing the first six games of the best-of-7 series with a concussion, gave San Jose a 1-0 lead by scoring on a deflection of a shot by defenseman Brent Burns at 5:57 of the first period. Pavelski added an assist to help the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Final for the second time in four seasons and fifth since entering the NHL in 1991.
San Jose, which rallied to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in overtime to win Game 7 in the first round, have won multiple Game 7s in one playoff year for the first time in its history. The only other time the Sharks played more than one Game 7 in the same playoff year was 1994, when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals but lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference semifinals.
San Jose is 8-4 in Game 7, including 5-1 at home. The Sharks are the fourth team to win at least five of their first six Game 7s on home ice, joining the New York Rangers (6-0), Red Wings (5-1) and Maple Leafs (5-1).
San Jose coach Peter DeBoer is 4-0 in Game 7 (3-0 with the Sharks) and is the second NHL coach to earn wins in each of his first four Game 7s, joining Tommy Ivan, who went 4-0 with the Red Wings.
The Sharks will face the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final with Game 1 at SAP Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). San Jose is 3-2 in five postseason series against St. Louis, including a six-game victory in the 2016 conference final that put it into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time.
Pavelski, Hertl, Jones among heroes for Sharks
Pavelski has five points (three goals, two assists) in seven Game 7s, all with the Sharks, who are 5-2 in those games. The goal was his 47th in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, moving him past Kevin Stevens and into a tie with Chris Drury for sixth place among United States-born players on the all-time playoff goal-scoring list.
Center Tomas Hertl scored his ninth goal of the 2019 playoffs, tying teammate Logan Couture for the postseason lead. Hertl has five points (two goals, three assists) in four Game 7s, including one goal and one assist in each of the two this season. He leads all players in the playoffs with six multipoint games.
Burns had two assists, giving him 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the second round. He is the first defenseman in Sharks history to have at least 10 points in a postseason series. The last defenseman on any team with more than 10 points in a playoff series was Brian Leetch of the Rangers, who had 11 (five goals, six assists) in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
Forward Joonas Donskoi scored the series-winner to end a 39-game goal drought dating to Jan. 10. Donskoi played 7:34, becoming the fourth player since 1997-98 to score the series-clinching goal in a Game 7 despite seeing less than eight minutes of ice time, a feat that teammate Barclay Goodrow (7:26) accomplished in the first round. The two others are Roman Lyashenko (7:16) for the Dallas Stars in the 2000 Western Conference Final and Arron Asham (7:59) of the Rangers in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Martin Jones made 27 saves and is 3-0 in three Game 7s. He's the eighth goalie in NHL history to win each of his first three or more Game 7 starts.
Video: Sharks' special teams ignite another Game 7 home win
Game 7 trends
San Jose scored first against Colorado. The team that scores first is 131-46 (.740) in 177 Game 7s, including 3-2 this season.
Home teams are 104-73 (.588) and 4-1 this postseason. The Sharks and Blues each won Game 7 in the second round at home.
San Jose and Colorado played the 90th Game 7 to be decided by one goal (50.8 percent), including the fourth in five this season.
Bruins, Hurricanes set for Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final
The Boston Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at TD Garden on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). It's the fifth postseason series between the Bruins and Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers, with Boston winning the first three before Carolina defeated the Bruins in seven games in the 2009 conference semifinals after Scott Walker scored the series-winning goal in overtime.
The Bruins are making their third trip to the conference finals in eight years. They won in 2011 (when they won the Stanley Cup) and 2013.
The Hurricanes are coming off the first sweep of a best-of-7 series in Carolina/Hartford history. They have reached the conference finals in each of their past four postseason appearances (also 2002, 2006 and 2009).
Boston was 2-1-0 against Carolina during the regular season. The Bruins and Hurricanes split two games at PNC Arena before the Bruins won 4-3 in overtime at TD Garden on March 5. Nine of the past 14 games between the teams have been decided in overtime or a shootout.