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Sharks advance to first Cup final

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Captain Joe Pavelski scored an early goal, Joel Ward added two goals and the Sharks advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history, beating the Blues 5-2 Wednesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference final.

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Joonas Donskoi also scored, Logan Couture had an empty-netter and Martin Jones made 24 saves as a Sharks team notorious for postseason letdowns will play for the championship that has eluded stars such as Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

Thornton assisted on Pavelski's goal to set the tone and Marleau had two assists in the third period that set off chants of ''We Want The Cup! We Want The Cup!''

The Stanley Cup starts Monday night.

Thornton and Marleau, both 36, played a combined 2,778 NHL regular-season games and 315 playoff games between them before making the Cup final.

"It's unbelievable,'' Thornton said. "Everybody believes in everybody. The camaraderie and fellowship has been incredible this year.''

The organization had made the Western Conference final three times and never won more than two games.

The last time the Sharks were in the playoffs, they were up 3-0 in a 2014 first-round series against the Kings and lost.

LIGHTNING-KALAMAZOO DEAL: The Lightning entered into a one-year affiliation agreement with Kalamazoo of the ECHL.

around the league: The Panthers traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Canucks for forward Jared McCann. Gudbranson was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2010 draft and spent all five of his seasons with the Panthers. McCann, the No. 24 overall pick in the 2014 draft, had nine goals and nine assists for Vancouver this season. … The Coyotes hired Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer. He previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks' AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Sharks advance to first Cup final 05/25/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2016 12:09am]
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