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NHL Playoff Update: Game 3 Could Decide Series Between Canucks, Sharks

Heading into the series, it looked as if both the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks had finally begun to shake off their playoff demons, with one of them inevitably ending up in the Stanley Cup finals as the Western Conference's representative.

To this point in the series, that has only been true for one of these teams: the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks looked like they were going to have a difficult road to a potential appearance in the Cup finals after their first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. They blew a 3-0 series lead in disastrous fashion, needing an overtime win in Game 7 to move on, where they knocked off the Nashville Predators in six games. 

San Jose blew a 3-0 lead of their own, but did it in the second round, against the Detroit Red Wings. One could make the argument that having to fend off the veteran Wings in a tight Game 7 could have taken its toll on the Sharks, but the star power on this team leaves no excuses.

It's that start power that will have to step up in Game 3, if the Sharks hope to make something of this series.

We know how potent the Canucks can be offensively. Boasting the Sedin twins, Conn Smythe candidate Ryan Kesler, among others, there's a reason Vancouver won the President's Trophy as the league's best team in the regular season.

But the Sharks have the power to match it, even though it's gone missing in the first two games. They'll need guys like Dany Heatley and rookie Logan Couture to step up, along with Ryan Clowe, who has emerged as key cog in the Sharks machine.

If that line can get activated, Friday's game should be a much closer affair than Wednesday's blowout in Vancouver. Of course, Antti Niemi will have to return to something closer to his Stanley Cup-winning form, rather than playing with the guy he replaced in Chicago, Cristobal Huet.

They say you're not in trouble in a playoff series until you lose at home. With that in mind, Friday's game will make or break the Sharks and could spell the end yet again for the Sharks.