Now what the Vancouver Canucks want to avoid is a winner-take-all showdown.
The Canucks are hoping they can eliminate the Stars Saturday in Dallas (8 p.m. ET) in Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series.
Vancouver leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can advance to the next round for only the second time since 1995 with a win. What they fear is coming home needing a win in a Game 7 Monday.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Canucks centre Brendan Morrison said before the team caught a plane Friday morning. “These guys have a little momentum on their side but we have to go in there and take it back.”
The Stars avoided being bounced from the playoffs first round for the third consecutive season with a 1-0, overtime decision Thursday. That forced a trip to Dallas when the Canucks could have done without the air miles.
“We wanted to finish if off here but . . . it’s a long ways from over,” said defenceman Brent Sopel. “We still have one more to win.
“We are disappointed but we are going to regroup, go down there and play Game 6.”
The Stars know they have a long road ahead of them, but at least their playoffs aren’t in the ditch.
“We feel good,” said captain Brenden Morrow, who scored the winning goal on a power play just 1:04 after Vancouver was called for too many men on the ice.
“We’re going to try to not get too high. We tried not to get too low after being down 3-1. I think we have to play with a lot of emotion. We have to stay disciplined and keep our emotion in check and turn our energy into positive energy.”
Stu Barnes said the Stars can’t lose the desperation they showed to force a sixth game.
“Anytime you have your back against the wall, and the other team has three wins, you’re desperate and you have to go out and play your best,” he said. “Hopefully we can do it again in Game 6.”
Strangely, the Canucks might feel more confident playing on the road than at GM Place.
Twice Dallas goaltender Marty Turco has shut out the Canucks in Vancouver this series. Since Henrik Sedin won the opening game in quadruple overtime, the Canucks have gone 126 minutes, 22 seconds without scoring at home.
Vancouver won Games 3 and 4 in Dallas, both by 2-1 counts. That means the Stars have lost their last six home playoff games.
As expected, the series has been loaded with defence and light on offence. There have been three overtime games and each team has scored nine goals.
No one expects anything to change.
“It’s going to be like this, tight, low-scoring games,” said Henrik Sedin. “We have to take the chances when we get them.”
The Canucks need their best players to be better on offence. Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have all been kept off the scoresheet since Game 1.
The Canucks power play also is a miserable one-for-25.
“We have to get more goals on the power play,” Henrik Sedin said. “That’s something we have to work on.”
The Canucks haven’t been putting bodies in front of Turco, to block his vision or pounce on rebounds. Vancouver has also been guilty of trying too many pretty passes.
“We have to keep it a little more simple and play like they did,” Jan Bulis said. “Throw pucks at the net and not try to look for the pass and make nice plays.”
The biggest hurdle facing the Stars is Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Dallas has outshot Vancouver 190-178 during the series but Luongo has remained a brick wall.
“All series long these goalies have been unbelievable,” Morrow said. “They are stopping everything they see.
“It’s up to us to go out there, get traffic and earn our breaks.”
The Stars have fallen behind 3-1 in a playoff series 12 times and never fought back to even force a Game 7. Four times they have been beaten in six games.
The Canucks have their own history to deal with. In 2003 they led Minnesota 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinal only to lose in seven games.
Bulis said he hopes the Stars feel the pressure of having to win.
“Let’s just hope the struggle they’ve had at home will be to our advantage and hope for another win,” he said. “We’re not looking ahead to come back and win at home. We want to end it there.”