Pavelski returns, leads Sharks past Avs in Game 7

San Jose captain Joe Pavelski, who missed the first six games of the Western Conference semifinals, had a goal and an assist as the host Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in Game 7 Wednesday night to advance the Western Conference finals.

Tomas Hertl also had a goal and an assist, and Joonas Donskoi scored what proved to be the winner for San Jose, which will meet the St. Louis Blues in the conference final. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 27 saves.

Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost scored for the Avalanche, and goalie Philipp Grubauer stopped 24 of 27 shots.

Pavelski, whose head hit the ice after being cross-checked following a faceoff in Game 7 of the Sharks’ first-round series against Vegas, made his series debut and opened the scoring at 5:57 of the first period, tipping Brent Burns’ shot from the point past Grubauer.

Pavelski then fed Hertl from behind the net for a goal at 11:35 of the period, giving the Sharks an early 2-0 lead.

The Avalanche played most of the first period without their star, Nathan MacKinnon, who slammed awkwardly into the boards just outside the San Jose blue line less than two minutes into the game. MacKinnon grabbed at his right shoulder before skating to the bench. He returned with five minutes left in the period, and that seemed to spark Colorado, as Rantanen tipped a point shot by Samuel Girard past Jones with 6.8 seconds left in the first to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Avalanche appeared to tie the score at 7:46 of the second, as Derick Brassard stole the puck just outside the Sharks’ blue line and chipped it into the offensive zone. MacKinnon tracked down the puck in the right corner and fed Colin Wilson, whose one-timer beat Jones.

San Jose coach Peter DeBoer challenged the play, claiming Colorado was offside. After a lengthy review, officials determined that Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was at the bench waiting for the door to open on a line change, did not touch the blue line with his skate before the puck entered the zone.

Donskoi scored at 12:37 of the second, skating behind the net with the puck before wheeling and firing a wrist shot through Landeskog’s legs and past Grubauer from the bottom of the left faceoff circle, restoring San Jose’s two-goal lead.

Jost pulled the Avalanche within 3-2 just 51 seconds into the third, corralling a rebound and scoring on a backhander.

Colorado, which had been outshot 25-14 through the first two periods, had a 15-2 edge in the third but was unable to tie the score.

The Avalanche went 0-for-3 on the power play and finished just 2-for-23 with the man-advantage in the series.