This Red Wings-Sharks series could be decided by anybody on the ice at any time. But it will likely come down to one simple, pointed question:
Will the Sharks crack under pressure?
That probably sounds unfair to the Sharks. But they have earned their reputation for being able to swallow only liquids at playoff time. If somebody ever writes a book on the last decade of San Jose Sharks hockey, the last 30 pages immediately will disappear. In the last 10 seasons before this one, the Sharks won their division six times and finished second three times -- and made the conference finals only twice. They have never made the Stanley Cup finals.
Then, Sunday night, the Sharks won Game 5 in every way a game can be won ... except for, you know, actually winning the game. Even championship-tested teams would struggle to get over that. It was fitting that when they left the ice, they were already wearing black.
"We're already starting the recovery process," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Sunday night. "I believe if we play that way again, if we produce that game, we give ourselves a good opportunity to win. We've gotta do that. We're looking forward to doing that on Tuesday."