David Perron on Joe Thornton hit – I think its affected my life a lot – ESPN

David Perron on Joe Thornton hit - \I think it\s affected my life a lot\ - ESPN

2019 Western Conference Finals: Game 1 Open Thread

Share Share 2019 Western Conference Finals: Game 1 Open Thread tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Three years ago, the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues survived their respective Game 7s in the divisional finals to meet up in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Sharks knocked off a wild card crossover team from the Central Division, while the Blues marched past the Dallas Stars.

Leading up to his Game 7 return, Pavelski made his first public appearance since his gruesome injury in the final stages of the third period in Game 5 when he was shown on the jumbotron waving a rally towel during a TV timeout. This caused the Tank to erupt in a critical time in a crucial game. This energy and emotional boost helped the Sharks hold off the Avalanche for a 2-1 win giving them a 3-2 series lead.

Three years later, the Sharks and Blues survived their respective Game 7s in the divisional finals to meet up in the 2019 Western Conference Finals. San Jose knocked off a wild card crossover team from the Central Division, while the Blues marched past the Dallas Stars.

Leading up to Game 7 there was speculation that Joe Pavelski would make his return but things stayed uncertain all the way up until the Sharks skated out for pregame warmups. The Sharks leading goal scorer this season took the ice with the team for warmups creating a buzz among Sharks fans. This was the first time Pavelski skated publicly on the surface where he sustained his injury.

Video: Couture, Meier power Sharks past Blues in Game 1

These teams 2016 meeting saw the Sharks advance to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history, defeating the Blues in six games. The Sharks will look for a repeat, while the Blues will look to rewrite the ending of these Conference Final.

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With the Eastern Conference finals already underway, the puck dropped out West as the Sharks and Blues kicked off their conference final. 

San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones incredible turnaround has saved the team

San Jose played host for the series opener and the hometown Sharks came away with the victory in a strong Game 1 performance. Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc all got on the board in the Sharks 6-3 win, with Couture and Meier scoring twice in the victory.

Up next is a rematch of the 2016 Conference Final with the St. Louis Blues. Back in January, the Blues were not in the playoff picture and near the bottom of the standings. With a change in goaltenders, the Blues roared back, vaulting up the Central Division standings and grabbing a spot in the playoffs.

Video: Joe Pavelskis son and Brent Burns son take in Game 1

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It was a chippy, physical Game 1 that certainly wasnt perfect for either team, but it was an entertaining start to what might be a grueling, long series to find a Western Conference representative in the Stanley Cup Final. Jordan Binnington and Martin Jones didnt have their best start to the series, but their defenses werent exactly in tip-top shape in front of them either.

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Video: Joe Pavelski swats in the rebound for a power-play goal

San Jose is looking to get over the hump and make the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2016, when they lost to the Penguins. The Blues havent been to a Stanley Cup Final since 1970.

The Blues cut the lead to “dangerous” when the Blues caught the Sharks scrambling in their own zone and found Tyler Bozak wide open next to the net. Bozak slipped a shot past Jones. That goal made it 5-3 with seven minutes remaining in the period.

The Golden Knights may have been the victim of high expectations. After all, it’s hard to live up off a Stanley Cup finals appearance in your first season. But the Sharks were a different story. Although they made the playoffs in the disappointing Western Conference, they hype that surrounded the team following the Erik Karlsson trade never seemed to fully arrive, in part due to Karlsson’s regular season injuries.

Its not over yet! @Bozie42 brings the @StLouisBlues to within two. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/j2zjf1BNAC

When it was announced that the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights secured the first-round matchup of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there wasn’t too much excitement. Aside from the buzz of the emerging rivalry between San Jose and the Vegas team entering its sophomore season, neither team had been playing at an exciting level to that point that would convince anyone to put either team far in their bracket.

San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski shines in his return

Ultimately, it wasnt enough as the Sharks hung on — and added an empty netter — for the victory in the series opener.

It was a great second period for the Sharks, who have increased their lead to 5-2 heading into the final period of regulation. Kevin Labanc got the first goal of the middle frame when he was able to rip a shot through traffic and past Jordan Binnington about eight minutes into the period. The Blues once again found a quick answer when Ryan OReilly showcased some solid patience after Martin Jones gave up a juicy rebound.

OReilly with the great move to make it a one-goal game again! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/KF6fgf1JEO

He was a bull, Couture said. When he skates and his strength, hes tough to defend. Were fortunate enough to play with him on our line, and I thought he was really, really good. Good stick, strong on pucks, you saw the talent on the one where he was able to walk around the d-man and finish. Hes a really good player and hes coming into his own right now.

But Timo Meier responded shortly after with what might be the goal of the playoffs so far. Logan Couture forced a turnover by poke checking Colton Parayko, and Meier took advantage by dangling through a Blues defender and pulling a Forsberg on Binnington. just ruthless.

This isnt EK65s first trip to a conference final, of course. He and the Sens made it through seven games in 2017 before Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked them out of the running for the Lord Stanleys Cup. Karlsson admitted he cant compare both conference final trips since the current one hasnt happened yet. But he did acknowledge his level of confidence in San Jose is very high.

What we learned in Sharks series-opening win vs. Blues

Meier also added another goal later in the period with the help of some serious puck luck. After a teammate fired a puck off the boards, Meier smacked the redirect towards the middle of the ice and saw it bounce off a Blues defenders skate and deflect past Binnington for a pretty lucky goal. 

Karlssons season with Team Teal hasnt been without its ups and downs. It took him a bit of time to get acclimated to San Jose after having only played with Ottawa during his professional career. Then came the mid-season injury that left him sidelined until the last game of the regular season. As the Sharks playoff run has continued, Karlssons level of play has only improved.

Freedman: Blues-Sharks Game 1 NHL Player Props Im Betting

It was a pretty eventful (and brutal) first period in San Jose to kick off this series. Its clear that the Blues are placing an emphasis on finishing checks and bringing a physical element to their game, and theyre seeking out some of the Sharks better players to bring the pain.

For me, this is a privilege, and something when I got traded here that I wished for, Karlsson said. But theres no guarantees. Everything that this team and this organization has shown me is that theyre willing to put in the work to get to where we want to go. And now were sitting here and have some work left to do.

But it was Logan Couture who got the Sharks on the board first, scoring his 10th goal of these playoffs — tops among all players. That goal is also his 26th postseason goal in the past five years, putting him ahead of Sidney Crosby for third-most in the NHL. 

[email protected] opens the Western Conference Final scoring with his 10th of the #StanleyCup Playoffs! pic.twitter.com/q0cWy53Nnu

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The Blues got an answer to that goal when Jaden Schwartz scored his ninth of the postseason. St. Louis will be looking to create traffic in front of Martin Jones in this series and they were able to position Joel Edmundson on the doorstep on Schwartzs tally.

The matchup with the Blues fits Timo Meier, and the Sharks physical and skilled forward is ready for the…

However, San Jose answered the answer thanks to Joe Pavelskis hand-eye coordination. During a 5-on-3 power play for the Sharks, Pavelski was able to deflect his own shot out of mid-air — not once, but twice — and past Jordan Binnington to reclaim the lead for San Jose.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so theres a good chance you dont like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often… Full Bio

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