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Canucks understand importance of Game 5

by Dhiren Mahiban /
VANCOUVER – Heading into Game 5 on Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks are saying all the right things with the opportunity to close out their series with the Nashville Predators on home ice.

The Presidents' Trophy winners are in an all too familiar position up 3-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal matchup with the Preds. It was just 16 days ago the Canucks held a 3-1 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks with Game 5 at a sold-out Rogers Arena; however, Vancouver was blanked 5-0.

"I think you go in to most playoff games wanting to win the next one," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "I don’t think you go in with a {cavalier} attitude. We realized last series how things went south pretty quickly and momentum built in the playoffs. Next thing you know, we're in Game 7 overtime."

Historically, the Canucks have struggled to win Game 5 when up 3-1 -- Vancouver has a 4-4 record with the chance to end things in a fifth game. Their last series-clincher in Game 5 ironically came in May of 1994 -- when the Canucks reached their last Stanley Cup Final -- during the Western Conference Finals.  A win Saturday night can vault Vancouver into the conference finals for the first time in 17 years.

"We want to finish the series tomorrow, but to do that we got to play the way we've been doing so far – good defensively and realizing it's going to be a low-scoring game again," said Daniel Sedin, who has just two assists in the series. "It's going to be tight going into the third and that's the way we like it."

The Canucks are 0-3 dating back to April of 2003 when they have an opportunity to wrap up a series in five games and have been out-scored 13-2 in those losses. Vancouver is 12-11 all-time in Game 5, with its last win in a fifth game coming last May against Chicago.

Roberto Luongo, who has returned to his Vezina-like form with a 1.50 GAA and .949 save percentage through the first four games against the Predators, likes his team's chances.

"We all know it would be nice to finish things tomorrow, but at the end of the day it's about playing our game," he said. "We want to make sure we come out tomorrow and just play the we have the last two games and set a good tempo.

"If that happens, I like our chances."

Nashville is just 1-6 all-time in Game 5 of the playoffs, with its lone win coming against the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round of these playoffs. The Preds won in overtime by a 4-3 score.
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