Three Stars: Joel Ward comes up big again in Sharks’ clinching win
Outside of a brief stretch late in the third period, Game 6 belonged entirely to the San Jose Sharks as they defeated the St. Louis Blues, 5–2, to book their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. Here is who led the way:
Joel Ward, San Jose Sharks
When the Sharks signed Ward as a free agent last summer, GM Doug Wilson praised the veteran for playing “an extremely hard-nosed brand of hockey.” He also had the prescience to note that Ward “has a strong track record of playing his best hockey at crucial times of the season.”
It doesn’t get much more crucial than an elimination game of the Western Conference finals. Ward continued his magical postseason run with his second consecutive two-goal game. He scored the game-winner early in the third period, converting a seeing-eye pass from Logan Couture into an easy tap-in.
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Was there a better trade made during the off-season than the one that brought Jones to the Sharks? The arrival of the 26-year-old netminder transformed San Jose from a pretender to a contender as it fed off his cool, confident play. Jones wasn’t tested often in Game 6, but came up big when it mattered. If his first-period save on Alex Steen didn't swing the game San Jose’s way, then his second-period stop on Jori Lehtera surely did.
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
A goal and a pair of primary assists look great on the stat sheet, but Couture was even better without the puck. He created four or five turnovers with his relentless hounding of the puck, continuing to lay the groundwork for the inevitable Selke nomination that’s just down the road.