Big Story -- Vancouver is one win away from reaching its first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 and only its third in franchise history. The Canucks, who are celebrating their 40th season, have never won a Stanley Cup. San Jose is hoping to stave off elimination in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Sharks lost the final two games of the 2004 Conference Finals and all four games to Chicago in this round last season.
Sharks --Joe Thornton will play in Game 5 despite what appears to be a significant shoulder injury that he suffered midway through the third period in Game 4. Raffi Torres caught Thornton with a shoulder-to-shoulder blow that seemed to stun the big center and hurt him as well. Thornton did not return to Game 4, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he will play in Game 5. Thornton also wrote in a text message to the San Jose Mercury News that he will play.
The Sharks obviously need their captain, who has been one of their best forwards in this series. They also need way more out of guys like Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski -- the trio that is bearing the brunt of the criticism because they have not been factors at any point in this series. They've combined for only 3 assists, 27 shots and a minus-7 rating in the series.
Heatley was demoted to the third line on Sunday. He has 1 assist and just eight shots on goal in four games. He had only one shot in nearly 19 minutes of ice time in Game 4.
"We expect a little bit more from him," McLellan said. "I think he has to find a way to put himself in better position on the ice to score. We'll get that from him in Game 5."
Canucks -- They're 2-4 in potential closeout games this postseason and 0-2 in Game 5s, both of which were played at home. But the Canucks obviously have plenty of incentive to close out the Sharks in Game 5.
A win will get them to the Stanley Cup Final. It's a lot different for a team when it knows a win in Game 5 means a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, not just the Western Conference Semifinals.
A win will get them at least a few days of rest, and potentially more depending on what happens in the Eastern Conference Finals. It will also bring them within four more wins of a Stanley Cup championship.
"We're in a spot where we're one win away from the Stanley Cup Final and guys are excited about that," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "We want to get there. We want to do whatever it takes to get there."
That means keeping their sticks down and off the Sharks so they can stay out of the penalty box. Vancouver won Sunday despite playing shorthanded for 10 of the first 24 minutes of the game. The Canucks gave San Jose 10 power plays in Game 3 and it's why they lost, 4-3.
They've killed off 12 of the last 13 power plays against.
"As a team we have to be more disciplined," forward Tanner Glass said. "If you give a team like that that many power plays you're not going to win too many times."
Who's Hot -- Henrik Sedin set a team record for assists in a playoff game with four on Sunday and finished the day leading the NHL with 19 points. He has 10 points in the series. Daniel Sedin had three assists in Game 4 and now has five points in the series. Sami Salo scored twice and added an assist in Game 4.
Injury Report -- Canucks defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (shoulder) said he is day-to-day after practicing Monday. Ehrhoff missed Game 4 after suffering an injury in Game 3. The Canucks offered no update on Aaron Rome's status. He was hurt when Jamie McGinn boarded him late in Game 3. Forward Mikael Samuelsson is done for the playoffs after undergoing surgery. … Thornton is hurting, but he is expected to play. Sharks defenseman Jason Demers hasn't played in this series due to an undisclosed injury.
Stat Pack -- Vancouver is 12-14 all time in Game 5s. It is 3-9 dating back to 1996. … The Sharks are 8-13 when facing elimination. They are 12-12 in Game 5s, including 0-2 this postseason. They've never won when trailing a series three games to one (0-3), but they have extended the series to Game 6 twice.
Puck Drop -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault made a point of asking the media if anybody had any questions for him about Luongo at the end of his press conference following Sunday's win. Nobody did, but Vigneault was asked on Monday why he even went there and if it had anything to do with his desire to stick up for his goalie, who made 33 saves, yet wasn't even a topic of conversation.
"He played an outstanding game, was one of the best players on the ice, helped us win a game," Vigneault said. "I get tons of questions when some people question a goal he might have let in. For us, he's a great goaltender -- one, if not the best, in the League. His preparation, his commitment to winning, his commitment to this organization is unbelievable. I was curious the way he played such a great game and nobody asked.