The Avalanche saw their playoff run end just short of the Western Conference final, with a disputed call leaving a sour taste.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski returned to the lineup in Game 7, scoring in his first appearance since sustaining a head injury in Game 7 of the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights. He had a goal and an assist Wednesday as San Jose won 3-2 at SAP Center.
That head injury led to a major penalty that swung the outcome of the game and stirred controversy. This Game 7 had its own hotly debated incident.
Colin Wilson’s apparent tying goal in the second period was waved off after the Sharks challenged for offsides. Gabriel Landeskog was in the process of getting back to the bench, away from the play, but his skates were still on the ice in the offensive zone – enough to call it back, according to the NHL's "Situation Room" in Toronto.
Soon afterward, the Sharks’ Joonas Donskoi scored after a whiffed clear and made it 3-1.
The Avalanche needed a response. They got it when Tyson Jost scored 51 seconds into the third period. But they couldn’t find the equalizer.
Mikko Rantanen scored the other goal for the Avalanche. On the last rush of the first period, Rantanen swiped at a Samuel Girard shot and put it in with 6.8 seconds left.
Pavelski tipped a Brent Burns shot past Philipp Grubauer nearly six minutes into the game.
“I felt a lot of emotion tonight for sure,” Pavelski said after the game.
Tomas Hertl made it 2-0 with 8:25 left in the first period.
Nathan MacKinnon fell hard into the boards shoulder-first during a first-period power play and went to the locker room, but returned before the end of the period.
The last time the Avalanche made it to the conference finals was 2002, getting there by beating the Sharks in seven. San Jose reached the conference finals for the fifth time in 15 years and first since 2016.
“They were good,” Pavelski said of the Avalanche. “They made us work.”
The Sharks observed a moment of silence for victims of Highland Ranch shooting before the game.
Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Sharks and the St. Louis Blues is set for Saturday at 6 p.m.