NHL Playoffs 2011: Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks in a Crucial Game 5

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NHL Playoffs 2011: Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks in a Crucial Game 5
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Tonight, the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks are in familiar places.

The Sharks are facing elimination in a Western Conference final, a round of the playoffs they have never been able to advance past. In past trips to the third round, they have not fared well in elimination games, cementing a reputation as playoff non-performers.

The Canucks are looking to finish off a series for the third time in the 2011 playoffs—a series they have dominated to lead 3-1 after four games. Unfortunately for the Canucks, they were unable to muster that killer instinct to put away Chicago or Nashville in Game 5.

One of those trends will be broken tonight.

Either the Sharks' star players stand up and play like they are worth their salaries or the Canucks will finish off an opponent without letting them off the mat first.

An important storyline tonight will be the officiating.

Will the officials call everything as they did in Games 3 and 4? The Sharks should hope so. 

The Sharks won Game 3 on the strength of their special teams and the Canucks returned the favour by doing the same in Game 4.

At even strength, the Sharks can't compete with the Canucks, at least not without a better effort than they have put forward in the playoffs so far.

The game starts at 6 PM Pacific. History will be made, one way or another.

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