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Canucks must call on killer instinct

by Dan Rosen /
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Henrik Sedin believes a team shows killer instinct when it doesn't relax or think there's still time left to win the series. The Vancouver Canucks' captain said the key is thinking tomorrow doesn't exist even though it does.

"We're going to treat (Tuesday's) game as a Game 7," Sedin said. "It's a must win for us."

It's all good to talk about it that way, but the Canucks have struggled to act on their captain's words in these playoffs. They're 2-4 in potential close-out games and 0-2 in Game 5s, yet here they are, one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, a place forward Tanner Glass said "we expected to be at all year."

The next hurdle is reaching the big show, but Vancouver will have to show some killer instinct to get there. It'll have to show something that hasn't been too prevalent around these parts in the last 40 years.

"We're going to treat (Tuesday's) game as a Game 7. It's a must win for us."
-- Henrik Sedin

Game 5 is Tuesday at Rogers Arena (9 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).

"We got up against Chicago, the No. 8 team, and they're the defending Stanley Cup champs and they've been in that position before and they won," Sedin said Monday from Rogers Arena after an optional practice that he did not take part in. "It's not easy. You gotta have some luck. You gotta play your best hockey to finish some teams off."

The Canucks haven't done that. They've been outscored by a whopping 22-12 in their six potential close-out games, including 16-5 against the Blackhawks in Games 4, 5 and 6 after grabbing a 3-0 series lead in the first round. Nashville beat them, 4-3, to force a Game 6 in the second round.

Of course they'll say Tuesday night's Game 5 will be different because they know their opponent well and they don't want to give the skilled Sharks any life in this series. Again, it's about acting on those words.

"What is there to learn? We didn't get the job done," goalie Roberto Luongo said defiantly when asked about lessons from previous failures in closeout games the Canucks can take into Tuesday's game. "I don't think we wanted to lose those games, by any means. At the end of the day, the last one is always going to be the toughest one to win and we want to make sure we treat (Tuesday) night as a Game 7 for us, and we come prepared to play it that way."

Glass, though, said it would be good for his team to refer back to how it felt going into Game 5 against Chicago -- and not have a repeat performance.

Vancouver was blown out of its own building, 5-0.

"In Game 4 in their rink they handled us pretty easily and we thought coming back here for Game 5 we could just show up, do our thing and we'd win," Glass said. "Obviously that wasn't the case and we don't expect that to be the case (Tuesday) night."

It's also not wrong to assume that Vancouver's urgency level Tuesday will be higher than it was in Game 5 against Nashville and Chicago. When a berth in the Stanley Cup Final is on the line, teams shouldn't be thinking about the margin for error that exists.

"We're close. We know we're right there. We're one step away," Luongo said. "It's so much fun right now coming to the rink every day. There are only four teams playing hockey right now and we have to realize that, enjoy the moment and come ready to play."

Like there's no tomorrow.

"It's kind of funny, Dan Hamhuis and I were just talking about what we'd do with the Cup for the weekend. That's something you always have in the back of your mind," Glass said. "But you approach it as one game. This team, all year long we haven't looked past the next practice or game. The mood hasn't changed."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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