SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the second time in as many nights, a deciding seventh game in the Western Conference semifinals turned into a blowout.
The Sharks used their playoff-leading power play to open the scoring and piled on from there, crushing the Predators 5-0 Thursday to advance to the West final against the Blues.
St. Louis earned its spot in the final with a 6-1 win over the Stars in Game 7 on Wednesday.
Joe Pavelski got that first power-play goal for San Jose at 9:02 of the first period. It was his ninth goal of the playoffs, tying the Lightning's Nikita Kucherov for the league lead. Joel Ward, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau also scored as San Jose reached the conference final for the first since 2011.
Martin Jones made 20 saves for the shutout.
The Preds couldn't do anything right. It started with their top defensemen, Shea Weber and Roman Josi, who were on the ice for every San Jose goal.
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was pulled in the third after allowing five goals on 26 shots. Both goals he allowed in the third — by Thornton and Marleau — came off odd-man rushes. As he left the ice to be replaced by Carter Hutton, Rinne smashed his stick against the goal post, breaking it on the second try and chucking it into the corner.
First Period—1, San Jose, Pavelski 9 (Marleau, Thornton), 9:02 (pp). 2, San Jose, Ward 2, 16:51. Penalties—Arvidsson, Nas (delay of game), 8:22; Weber, Nas (interference), 18:22.
Second Period—3, San Jose, Couture 7, :36. Penalty—Ekholm, Nas (cross-checking), 20:00.
Third Period—4, San Jose, Thornton 3 (Couture), :32 (pp). 5, San Jose, Marleau 4 (Couture, Donskoi), 3:54. Penalty—Braun, SJ (interference), 14:34 . Shots on Goal—Nashville 3-5-12—20. San Jose 17-6-4—27. Power-play opportunities—Nashville 0 of 1; San Jose 2 of 3. Goalies—Nashville, Rinne 7-8 (26 shots-21 saves), Hutton (19:18 third, 1-1). San Jose, Jones 8-4 (20-20).
World Championship: The United States moved a step closer to qualifying for the quarterfinals by beating France 4-0 in St. Petersburg, Russia. It ended the day in third place in Group B behind Canada, which beat Germany 5-2, and Finland. The top four advance.