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.
Joe Pavelskis Return Propels San Jose Sharks to Round 3
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.
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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The San Jose Sharks captain returned to the ice for Game 7 on Wednesday after missing the first six games of the series after suffering a scary head injury in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights. In his previous seven games played in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Joe Pavelski recorded two goals and two assists.
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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.
After his appearance on the jumbotron, Pavelski made the trip to Denver for Game 6 of the series where he partook in the morning skate on Monday with the team. This was a huge sign that he was feeling better and getting closer to returning to the lineup.
The San Jose Sharks went on to drop Game 6 in overtime setting up a Game 7 back at the Tank and also setting up a perfect time for Joe Pavelski to make his heroic return.
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.
As the end of the warmup’s horn sounded and the players made their way back to the locker room, Pavelski went through one more look over before there was a final decision on his status. Soon after the players made their way back to the dressing room, the official scratches list got submitted and displayed on the jumbotron without Pavelski’s name on it.
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.
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After Team Teal skated out of the San Jose Shark head in the most iconic entrance in the NHL to a roaring crowd, Joe Pavelski was announced as a starter causing the San Jose crowd to erupt. The crowd’s electric energy carried over to the Sharks as they started the game by attacking Colorado.
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.
Pavelski had an early impact on the game in his monumental return when he tipped a Brent Burns shot passed the reach of Phillip Grubauer just 5:57 into the game to give the San Jose Sharks a 1-0 lead. This was Pav’s third career Game 7 goal and his 47th goal of his Stanley Cup playoff career, per hockey-reference.
The Captain Joe Pavelski makes his presence known putting the #SJSharks up front.#StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/mDIYFaUqoy
The 34-year-old forward followed up his early goal with a beautiful assist from behind the net to a cutting Tomas Hertl who one-timed a shot past Grubauer extending the Sharks lead to 2-0. This perfect pass was Pavelski’s 50th career playoff assist.
Pavelski’s dominant play led the Sharks to a 3-2 Game 7 victory over the Avalanche sending Team Teal to their 5th Western Conference Final in franchise history. The captain’s returning performance will go down as one of the most iconic in Sharks history.
Pavelski required eight staples in his head and suffered a concussion, according to USA Today. This coming after deflecting a puck off his mouth to score a goal in Game 1 against the Knights. He lost several teeth which were seen laying on the ice as he skated away into the locker room covering his mouth. Pavelski visited the dentist the following day, but his head injury was a whole different story.
Number 8 has shown throughout these playoffs how determined he is to lead the Sharks to their first ever Stanley Cup. Pavelski has bounced back from both a shot to the jaw causing him to lose a couple of teeth, gain a few stitches and getting crosschecked to the ice head first requiring him to receive eight staples in his head.
Joe Pavelski and the Sharks continue their quest for the Stanley Cup against the Saint Louis Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday in San Jose.
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Video: NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Blues vs. Sharks | Game 1 Extended Highlights | NBC Sports