I'll give you a minute to let that sink in, by which I mean I need a minute to stop screaming.
The Stanley Cup Final gets going on Monday night, and for the first time in their 25-year history, the Sharks will be a part of it. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and their teammates will finally get their chance to compete for the most prestigious trophy in hockey.
There was no late comeback tonight, no need to bounce back after overcoming two deficits in Game 5. Just the Sharks doing what they do best: controlling play, pressuring their opponent, never letting up. It didn't matter who Ken Hitchcock started in net in Game 6, because the Sharks were the better team throughout the entire series, and they proved it again tonight. Their captain got things started in the series clincher, and Joel Ward, a player they acquired in large part for his postseason play, scored two goals including the game-winner.
Joe Pavelski led the way in Game 6 as he's done this entire postseason. Moments after Martin Jones made a glove save on Alexander Steen at one end of the ice to keep St. Louis off the board...
Jones save on Steen pic.twitter.com/qdVIK5ejr9— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 26, 2016
...Thornton skated into the Blues zone on a breakaway. Brian Elliott stopped Thornton's shot, but Pavelski carried the puck behind the net and beat Elliott with the wraparound try to put the Sharks up 1–0.
The goal was Pavelski's 13th of the playoffs, extending his league lead, and Thornton's assist was the 100th playoff point of his incredible playoff career in San Jose, as two of the greatest Sharks of all time set the tone.
The Sharks took over the game after Pavelski's goal, collecting nine of the next 12 shots and preventing the Blues from getting any good chances against Jones. Ward put that ninth shot in the net at 5:02 of the second, finishing off a blast by Brent Burns with a Pavelskian™ tip that made it 2–0 San Jose.
With 35 minutes left in their season, the Blues finally came alive after Ward scored. They killed a double minor to Scottie Upshall, then took 11 of the next 14 shot attempts to close out the second. Jones had his biggest save since Game 3 halfway through the period, stopping Jori Lehtera to preserve the two-goal lead.
After surviving the Blues' second period push, the Sharks took over again in the third. Ward added his second goal of the game to make it 3–0...
...then Joonas Donskoi scored San Jose's fourth goal with 11:49 left.
Vladimir Tarasenko finally broke through with a pair of goals for his first points of the series, but it was too little, too late for St. Louis. Logan Couture made it 5–2 with an empty netter in the final minute, and San Jose held on for its biggest win in a quarter-century of playing hockey. The Sharks will get their first chance to top it next week.
Sharks goals (assists): Joe Pavelski (Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl), Joel Ward (Brent Burns, Chris Tierney), Joel Ward (Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau), Joonas Donskoi (Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau), Logan Couture (Marc-Edouard Vlasic)
Fear the Fin's Three Stars
1) Joe Pavelski
2) Joel Ward
3) Joe Thornton