• Joe Pavelski made his series debut and was a major impact player right out of the gate.
• The Avalanche thought they battled back from a 2-0 deficit, but their second goal was taken away because Gabriel Landeskog was ruled as being offside during a line change.
• Colorado out shot San Jose 15-2 in the third period, but the Sharks held onto the lead.
San Jose Sharks 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (Sharks win series 4-3)
The Sharks didn’t confirm until nearly the last minute that Joe Pavelski would play, but the captain certainly made it worth the wait. He scored the opening goal and assisted on Tomas Hertl‘s marker to give San Jose a 2-0 lead by 11:35 of the first period. Meanwhile, Nathan MacKinnon left the contest early after crashing into the boards. Everything seemed to be trending towards a clean Sharks victory, but momentum swung to the Avalanche’s side when MacKinnon returned late in the first period and Mikko Rantanen scored with just seven seconds before intermission. Colorado seemed to tie the contest in the second, but the goal was overruled due to an odd offside call on Gabriel Landeskog. To add insult to injury, Joonas Donskoi scored a stunner midway through the second to put the Sharks up 3-1. Tyson Jost put the Avalanche back within one again early in the third period, but San Jose held on despite being out shot 15-2 in the third period.
1. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks. This one is easy. Not only did Pavelski manage to rejoin the Sharks after suffering a scary injury in Game 7 of Round 1, but he was a huge factor in this game. He had a goal and an assist while logging 19:49 minutes of ice time. Only two Sharks forwards were used more in Game 7.
2. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks. One of the two forwards who was used more. Hertl recorded 24:01 minutes of ice time, which is incredible for a forward in a game that didn’t go to overtime. No one on the Avalanche — forward or defenseman — matched Hertl in terms of minutes played. A big part of it was Hertl’s work on special teams. He got 4:39 power-play minutes and 2:42 shorthanded minutes. Of course, it wasn’t just how much work Hertl got in. He also contributed a goal and an assist.
3. Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks. His goal proved to be the game-winner. It was his first marker of the playoffs after he scored 14 goals during the regular season. It wasn’t just how important the marker was though, it also was an amazing goal to cap a great sequence for San Jose.
Highlights of the Night
Pavelski’s deflection goal early in the game gave the Sharks an edge early on. The game had so many twists and turns so it might be a stretch to say that this marker defined the game, but it certainly made a big impact.
- The Sharks are the sixth team in NHL history to start their run with two Game 7 victories at home. [TSN’s StatsCentre]
- This will be Peter DeBoer’s third trip to the Conference Final as a head coach. The other two times he got this far, his team ended up losing in the Stanley Cup Final.
- The Western Conference Final will be a rematch of the 2016 series between the Sharks and Blues. San Jose won that one in six games.
- Mikko Rantanen’s playoff run ends with him recording six goals and 14 points in 12 games.
Game 1: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.