The San Jose Sharks are off to the Western Conference Final.
The Nashville Predators are left to reflect on a run into the second round of the playoffs that provided numerous magical moments — think back to their (controversial) triple overtime classic earlier in this series and seven-game series win over the Anaheim Ducks — but ended in utter misery.
For the second time in as many nights, a deciding seventh game in the West turned into a blowout.
On Thursday, the Sharks used their deadly power play to open the scoring and they continued to pile on from there. They crushed the Predators 5-0 in Game 7, and will now play the St. Louis Blues in the conference final.
In their biggest game of the season, the Predators couldn’t do anything right. It started with their top defensemen, Shea Weber and Roman Josi, who both had a night to forget. They were on the ice for every San Jose goal.
Pekka Rinne was pulled, mercifully, in the third period after allowing five goals on 26 shots. Both goals he allowed in the third period — from Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau — came off odd-man rushes.
As he left the crease, giving way to Carter Hutton, Rinne smashed his stick against the post, breaking it on the second try and chucking it into the corner in anger.
The players in front of Rinne had no answer for a relentless Sharks team in the finale.