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The Climb

Sharks try to climb into first Stanley Cup Final

St. Louis seeks to avoid elimination again; San Jose's Pavelski, Jones key to closing series

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history is within the grasp of the San Jose Sharks. All they have to do is defeat the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Sharks moved within one victory of the Final by defeating the Blues 6-3 in St. Louis on Wednesday. But the Blues won the previous game in San Jose, 6-3 on May 21, and can earn their first trip to the Final since 1970 by winning Games 6 and 7.

Here are four players trying to help their teams take the next step in their climb toward the Cup.

Brian Elliott, G, Blues - Elliott will start Game 6 after Jake Allen got the call in Games 4 and 5. He started each of the Blues' first 17 playoff games this spring, going 9-8 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. Two of his wins came in Game 7s; he defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round 3-2 and won the deciding game in the second round on the road against the Dallas Stars, 6-1.

Troy Brouwer, F, Blues - In terms of scoring goals, the 30-year-old is having by far the best playoff of his NHL career. Brouwer had two goals in Game 4 and scored again in Game 5; in his first six trips to the playoffs, three with Chicago and three with the Washington Capitals, he scored seven goals in 78 games. He has eight goals in 19 games and his 13 points are tied for fourth on the Blues this postseason.

Joe Pavelski, F, Sharks - San Jose's captain has at least one point in each game of this series, and he's coming off a two-goal, one-assist performance in the Game 5 victory. Pavelski leads the NHL with 12 goals in these playoffs, and he's tied with teammate Logan Couture for the scoring lead with 21 points. Pavelski is also making his goals count; he's scored four game-winners.  

Martin Jones, G, Sharks - Any questions about Jones' reliability in his first playoff season as a starter have long since been answered. The 26-year-old, who had never started a postseason game before this spring, has played all but 29 minutes in San Jose's 17 games; he's 11-6 with a 2.13 GAA, a save percentage of .918 and a League-leading three shutouts. Two of those shutouts came in Games 2 and 3 against the Blues.

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