Facing elimination on Thursday, the Canucks scored a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Flames on home ice in Game 5 to stay alive in their Western Conference quarter-final.
Vancouver remains on the brink, trailing the series 3-2, but veteran goalie Ryan Miller said pressure is shifting to Calgary, which hosts Game 6 on Saturday night and will want to put the Canucks away to avoid returning to Rogers Arena for a winner-take-all Game 7.
"It's hard to close out a series," Miller said after Friday's practice. "I've been in those situations and you do let doubt get into your mind sometimes. Our job is to keep reinforcing that and keep reminding them we are a good team and they are going to have to beat us."
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin has been on both sides of 3-1 series leads and said the longer it takes to get that all-important fourth win, the more it can wear a team down.
"There's a lot of pressure on them going back home. Being up 3-1 you have a chance to win it," said Sedin, who picked up and assist on his brother Daniel's winning goal in Game 5. "I felt they looked a little tired at the end of the game. We have to bring the same energy. For them to go home and face their crowd, there's a lot of pressure there."
The Canucks put in their best effort of the series in Thursday night's must-win, peppering Flames goalie Jonas Hiller with 43 shots while limiting Calgary to 21, including just one on three power plays.
"I know we're excited to still be playing," said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. "It could have been a real bad day today and we knew that and we responded the right way and we have to go in and get the next one."
Experience might play a factor moving forward if Vancouver gets that next one away from home and is able to come back in the series. The Canucks' core has been through a number of playoff battles — including that run to the 2011 Cup final — while the Flames have eight players making their post-season debuts, including five rookies. Calgary is also without five regulars because of injury, including captain and star defenceman Mark Giordano.
"I'm not a psychologist. I don't know how they're feeling," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "All I know is we've won three games in a row a lot this year. It's not something that's insurmountable. We're a good road team.
"We haven't played our best in this series on the road so this is a good time to throw our best game at them."
Calgary won Game 3 and 4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with the crowd playing a big factor early in both games. The Canucks know keeping emotions in check, as they did for the most part in Game 5, will be a key early as the Flames look to close out their first playoff series win since 2004.
"It's a loud crowd. You can barely talk to your linemates during the game," said Henrik Sedin. "It's tough building to play in. I think a lot of times you tend to overreact to that kind of stuff where they have a 3-on-3 (rush) and the crowd goes crazy and you think 'Wow they're playing great.' You've got to trust you instincts that you're playing good hockey."
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