Sharks top Blues, advance to first Stanley Cup Final

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Sharks Advance to Stanley Cup Final

(The Sports Xchange) - The San Jose Sharks are going to finish their silver anniversary season chasing that big silver chalice.

The Stanley Cup Final is coming to San Jose.

Joel Ward scored two goals and Martin Jones stopped 24 of 26 shots as the Sharks eliminated the St. Louis Blues with a 5-2 win in Game Six on Wednesday.

Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture also scored in the clinching game for San Jose.

By virtue of winning the Western Conference title, the Sharks advance to their first appearance in the NHL's ultimate series.

San Jose will open the Stanley Cup Final against the winner of Thursday's Game Seven between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Ward scored his second goal of the game and sixth of the playoff series at 3:01 of the third period by deflecting a Couture feed past Blues goalie Brian Elliott.

Donskoi iced it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 8:11 from another pass from Couture, who capped a three-point night with an empty-net goal with 19.7 seconds left.

HERE ARE THE HIGHEST-PAID HOCKEY PLAYERS:

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Highest-paid NHL players
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Sharks top Blues, advance to first Stanley Cup Final

#19t Marian Hossa -- $7.9 million

Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Position: Left Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $7.9 million salary

One thing to know: In the seventh season of another heavily front-loaded contract, Hossa is nearing the end of his big pay days as his salary dips to $4 million next season and $1 million in each of the four seasons after that. If he is still around to see the end of the deal, he will be 42 when his contract expires.

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

#19t Rick Nash -- $7.9 million

Team: Columbus Blue Jackets

Position: Left Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $7.9 million salary

One thing to know: Despite rumors of a potential trade this off-season, the oft-criticized Nash is still with the Rangers, in the sixth year, of the 8-year, $62.4 million contract he originally signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

#16t Dion Phaneuf -- $8 million

Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

Position: Defenseman

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $6 million salary, $2 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Phaneuf’s 7-year, $49 million contract was considered a big reason for the demise of former Leafs GM Dave Nonis, who was fired at the end of last season.

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

#16t Vladimir Tarasenko -- $8 million

Team: St. Louis Blues

Position: Right Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $8 million salary

One thing to know: Tarasenko signed an 8-year, $60 million extension this summer, despite being just 23 years old and still years from unrestricted free agency. Sean McIdoe described the contract as “one that largely redefines the market for young players."

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

#16t Derek Stepan -- $8 million

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

#15 Sergei Bobrovsky -- $8.5 million

Team: Columbus Blue Jackets

Position: Goaltender

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $8.5 million salary

One thing to know: Bobrovsky is one of only two goalies on this list, however, his 4-year, $29.7 million contract ranks just 13th among all net keepers.

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

#14 Patrice Bergeron -- $8.75 million

Team: Boston Bruins

Position: Center

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $8.75 million salary

One thing to know: Bergeron’s 8-year, $55 million contract extension, signed in 2013, means the center will likely play his entire career with the Bruins.

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

#10t Corey Perry -- $9 million

Team: Anaheim Ducks

Position: Right Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $5 million salary, $4 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Perry is in the third year of an 8-year, $69 million contract. His $8.6 million salary cap figure is the 7th-largest in the NHL.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

#10t Claude Giroux -- $9 million

 (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

#10t Zach Parise -- $9 million

Team: Minnesota Wild

Position: Left Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $9 million salary

One thing to know: Like many in 2012 and 2013, the deals signed by Parise and teammate Ryan Suter are front-loaded, with the pair looking forward to $1 million salaries in the final years when they will be in their late-30s.

(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

#10t Ryan Suter -- $9 million

Team: Minnesota Wild

Position: Defenseman

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $9 million salary

One thing to know: Proving the NHL likes to do the teammates-get-equal-pay thing, Suter and teammate Zach Parise signed identical 13-year, $98 million contracts in 2012.

(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

#9 Ryan Getzlaf -- $9.25 million

Team: Anaheim Ducks

Position: Center

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $9.25 million salary

One thing to know: Getzlaf’s 8-year contract includes a no-move clause, meaning he cannot be traded or sent to the minors.

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

#7t Evgeni Malkin -- $9.5 million

Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

Position: Center

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $9.5 million salary

One thing to know: After signing an 8-year, $76 million extension in 2013, Malkin’s dad sparked a controversy by claiming his son had turned down a bigger offer from the Dallas Stars, even though Malkin still had one year left on his prior deal.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

#7t Eric Staal -- $9.5 million

Team: Carolina Hurricanes

Position: Left Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $9.5 million salary

One thing to know: Staal is in the final year of his 7-year, $57.8 million contract. Despite talks of a possible extension, nothing has come to fruition yet.

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

#5t Alex Ovechkin -- $10 million

Team: Washington Capitals

Position: Left Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $10 million salary

One thing to know: The 13-year, $124 million contract signed by Ovechkin in 2008 is still the largest in the NHL. However, unlike some bigger deals signed later, his was not front-loaded.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Team: New York Rangers

Position: Goaltender

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $10 million salary

One thing to know: Even with the new limitations on contracts, Lundqvist’s new 7-year, $59.5 million contract is proof that teams still like to front-load these deals. Of the nearly $60 million, $39.5 million will be paid in the first four seasons.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

#4 Sidney Crosby -- $12 million

Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

Position: Center

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $12 million salary

One thing to know: Like Shea Weber, Crosby signed his extension just before the new CBA, and his deal is also heavily front-loaded. This is the final of three seasons with $12 million salaries. Starting next season, Crosby’s salary starts to shrink, eventually reaching just $3 million in 2022-23, when he will be 35.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

#2t Patrick Kane -- $13.8 million

Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Position: Right Wing

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $6.8 million salary, $7.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: The $84 million contracts for Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews are also the largest in the NHL since the new CBA was ratified in early 2013.

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

#2t Jonathan Toews -- $13.8 million

Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Position: Center

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $6.8 million salary, $7.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Toews and teammate Patrick Kane signed identical 8-year, $84 million contracts prior to the 2014-15 season. Their $10.5 million cap hits are the largest in the NHL.

(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

#1 Shea Weber -- $14 million

Team: Nashville Predators

Position: Defenseman

2015-16 earnings breakdown: $1 million salary, $13 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Weber was one of the last NHL players to exploit a loophole in the old collective bargaining agreement, signing a $110 million contract. The catch is that the deal is 14 years long and heavily front-loaded, not expiring until he is 40 years. The benefit to the team was to spread the salary cap hit out over many years. This practice was nixed in the newest CBA, with contracts now limited to eight years.

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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The Blues snapped Jones attempt at a third shutout of the series when St. Louis' regular-season leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko finally registered his first point of the series with a goal at 11:39 and scored again with an extra attacker at 16:25.

The Sharks scored the only goal of the second period to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

Ward gained inside position on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to redirect a soft wrist shot by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns from the right point past Elliott at 5:02 of the middle period.

The Sharks scored the only goal of a first period. Pavelski scored his NHL playoff-leading 13th goal on a wrap-around at 3:57.

He outmuscled Pietrangelo to backhand a shot along the ice as Elliott couldn't keep his left pad tight against the near post.

The goal came following a close call for the Blues moments earlier.

Center Paul Stastny fired from the mid-slot, but Jones got a piece of it and San Jose center Tomas Hertl quickly moved the puck to Pavelski, who tapped it at center ahead to Joe Thornton.

Thornton broke in alone on Elliott, but his drive went over the cage. Thornton outworked Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to make a short pass to Pavelski, and the San Jose captain did the rest.

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