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Canucks focus on eliminating Sharks in Game 5

Vancouver Canucks' head coach Alain Vigneault smiles during a news conference after an optional team practice in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday May 23, 2011. The Canucks and San Jose Sharks play game 5 of the NHL's Western Conference final Stanley Cup playoff hockey series Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

DARRYL DYCK

Henrik Sedin was talking about the Vancouver Canucks approach, and how it never wavers whether it's Game 5 of the Western Conference final, or the 37th game of the regular season.

"When the clock hits 7 o'clock," the Canucks captain said, "we're ready."

Uh, Henrik, Game 5 starts at 6 p.m. PT.

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That slip of the mind notwithstanding, the Canucks say they're focused and ready to eliminate the San Jose Sharks from the NHL playoffs Tuesday. The Canucks can advance to their first Stanley Cup final since 1994, and they can do so 17 years to the day of Greg Adams's overtime goal to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Western Conference.

"We've done a good job all year of staying in the moment, and not looking too far ahead," centre Ryan Kesler said. "Tonight is going to be no different. We're going to have to stay in the moment."

The Canucks and Sharks are both playing their 100th games of the year Tuesday, excluding preseason, and are battling attrition as much as each other.

Neither defencemen Christian Ehrhoff nor Aaron Rome, both of whom missed Game 4 with upper-body injuries, participated in the morning skate for the Canucks. Both are expected to miss Game 5, meaning that Keith Ballard and rookie Chris Tanev will likely form the third defence pairing.

For San Jose, captain Joe Thornton said "without a doubt" he would play after leaving Game 4 following a hard check from Vancouver's Raffi Torres. Defenceman Jason Demers practised with his teammates, but isn't likely to dress after missing the first four games of the series.

Defenceman Dan Boyle, one of four Sharks to win an Olympic gold medal for Canada on Vancouver ice last February, said playing in high-stakes games helps settle the nerves in elimination stakes.

"At least with me, it helps me calm down," Boyle said. "The panic level is just a little less."

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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