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Sharks will play Blues in Western Conference Final

San Jose eliminated Avalanche, St. Louis defeated Stars to set up repeat of 2016

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The San Jose Sharks will play the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final.

The Sharks advanced with a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of that second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series Wednesday.

San Jose defeated St. Louis in six games in the 2016 conference final.

San Jose, which finished second in the Pacific Division, will have home-ice advantage against St. Louis, which finished third in the Central Division. Game 1 is at SAP Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"Obviously every team wants to be playing at home, so we played well at home so far these playoffs and it'll be nice to start at home again," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.

The Blues defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 in double overtime in Game 7 on Tuesday to end that second-round series.

"It's a grind. That's why it's a grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs," St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. "It's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding. We're moving on to the third round and we're excited. Guys are ready to roll."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Blues move on to Conference Final

The Sharks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round, winning the final three games, including Game 6 in double overtime and Game 7 in overtime.

"We are a resilient group here," San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "We know what we want, we know what we have to do to be successful and know we just have to find a way to do it a little more consistently throughout a series. It's a great challenge for us playing St. Louis and I think this group is definitely up for the test."

The Blues were last in the NHL standings on Jan. 3, defeated the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the first round, and won Games 6 and 7 to eliminate the Stars.

"A lot of people doubted us, but I'll tell you what, and I really do mean this: I'm really proud of this group more and more every single day," St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "You're around this group of guys, and a lot of people say we have a close room, and we do because that's a resilient effort from where we were in December to get to where we are now. Sometimes you've just got to look back and be proud of the effort. It's been a long road, but we just keep on pushing, and it's taken everybody right now, but we're finding a way."

The Sharks were 2-1-0 against the Blues this season, winning twice at home. Logan Couture had five assists, and Timo Meier had four points (two goals, two assists) for San Jose. Joe Pavelski scored two goals. Aaron Dell was 1-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .934 save percentage, including 30 saves in a 4-0 shutout on Nov. 17. Martin Jones allowed two goals on 19 shots in a 3-2 overtime win on March 9.

"A lot of work ahead of us for sure," Jones said. "We're looking at a game here Friday, so short turnaround, we'll get our meetings in here tomorrow and get ready to go. This is fun. ... We have to get ready to go here (against the Blues)."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Sharks moves on to Conference Final

Alexander Steen (one goal, one assist), Jayden Schwartz (one goal, one assist), Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko (two assists each) each had two points for St. Louis. Six players scored the six goals in the three games. Jake Allen allowed three goals on 33 shots in the overtime loss. Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington did not play against the Sharks in the regular season.

"We've just got to keep going," St. Louis forward Pat Maroon said. "... Teams are where they're at because they work hard, and it comes down to dedication."

The Sharks are 3-2 in playoff series against the Blues. San Jose won four of the last five games of the 2016 conference final.

"That is going to be another tough series," Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi said. "... This was a tough series, one-goal games, it was really fun to play. [The Blues are] going to be the same way, it's going to be tough, and looking forward to that."

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