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Sharks advance to Stanley Cup Final for first time

(Allan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire)

It was 25 years in the making, but the San Jose Sharks finally are going to the Stanley Cup Final.

Joel Ward scored a pair of goals and captain Joe Pavelski netted his fourth tally in three contests as the Sharks skated to a 5-2 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

San Jose, which played its first contest in the NHL on October 4, 1991, defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the opening round of the postseason and needed seven to eliminate the Nashville Predators before ousting St. Louis. The Sharks were unsuccessful in each of their previous three trips to the conference final.

Pavelski has been a major reason for San Jose’s success as he leads the league with 13 goals this postseason, with Wednesday’s tally extending his point streak to seven games. The 31-year-old has collected 22 points in 18 playoff contests, leaving him two behind teammate Logan Couture – who notched a goal and two assists – for first in the NHL.

Martin Jones has more than answered the question of whether or not he could get the job done in his first postseason as a starting goaltender, posting three shutouts and a 2.12 goals-against average through the first three rounds. The 26-year-old netminder served as the backup to Jonathan Quick during Los Angeles’ run to the Stanley Cup championship in 2014.

Veteran Patrick Marleau notched two assists Wednesday en route to his first appearance in the Final after 1,411 regular-season games and 165 playoff contests – all with the Sharks. The 36-year-old has been a member of each of the San Jose teams that have reached the conference final.

The Sharks look to shed the stigma of being the only one of the three California teams without a championship when they begin the Final with Game 1 on Monday. San Jose awaits the winner of the Eastern Conference final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, who square off in Game 7 in the Steel City on Thursday.

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