After a wild playoff run full of twists and turns, the Sharks' push to get into another Stanley Cup Final has come to an end. San Jose put up a gutsy late-game effort to stave off elimination, but saw their season come to an end with a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Here are three takeaways from Game 6:
The penalty kill was a killer: With St. Louis' power play clicking and San Jose's penalty kill unit depleted due to injuries -- more on that in just a second -- the Sharks needed to stay out of the penalty box on Tuesday night. Luck was not on their side in Game 6, as the Blues capitalized on both of their opportunities on the man advantage. The second penalty San Jose took was especially upsetting because they were finally getting some momentum from Dylan Gambrell's goal at 6:40 in the period.
It didn't help either that the Sharks' big push at the end of the game to even the score was shut down by Jordan Binnington and the goal post. San Jose went on a tear in the third period in an effort to crawl out of their two-goal hole, but the Sharks' chances were all stopped.
The Tarasenko Effect: One of the big keys in San Jose's victory in Game 1 was that they were able to keep Vladimir Tarasenko off of the scoreboard and basically rule him ineffective. Clearly, the mountain of criticism he received encouraged him to turn things around because he became an unstoppable force for St. Louis as the series wore on, culminating in a power-play goal in Game 6.
San Jose, on the other hand, didn't adjust and figure out how to stop him as he went on to register five points over Games 2 through 5.
Once Tarasenko gained momentum, his line with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz became a threat that was difficult to contain. The Sharks also didn't have an offensive answer of their own.
The biggest impact was made by players who weren't there: The Sharks knew they were in an uphill battle heading into Game 6 with multiple key players injured, and the absence of Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and Erik Karlsson was apparent. Much like the last leg of the regular season when the Sharks lost seven straight games, the number of injured playmakers was too much for the team one the ice to make up for.
Now with their second season over, the focus will continue to center on Karlsson and Pavelski into the offseason. The future for both skaters is unclear as both are on a long list of Sharks players who will be unrestricted free agents this summer. San Jose's postseason push may be over, but there's no denying the team will still be making headlines before the next season gets underway.