It already was just about as bad as it could get for the Sharks.
Then it got worse -- much worse.
Adding injury to the insult of losing decisively Sunday in Game 4 to Vancouver at the Shark Tank, San Jose captain Joe Thornton left midway through the third period after taking a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Canucks agitator Raffi Torres.
Thornton didn't return in the 4-2 loss, leaving it unclear if the Sharks will have the services of their star as they face elimination in the Western Conference finals in Game 5.
But while he didn't talk with the media after the game, Thornton later wrote in a text message that he expects to be in the lineup Tuesday.
"100 percent," Thornton texted in response to the question of whether or not he expected to play. "It's playoffs, got to play through everything."
After the game, Todd McLellan did little to shed light on Thornton's status, the coach saying he had no information yet. During the playoffs, teams treat health issues with extreme secrecy. But, as Thornton texted, players often take to the ice in great pain during the postseason.
And with the Sharks now one defeat away from summer vacation, they will need their top player.
"He's one of the best players in the world," Logan Couture said. "And knowing Joe, he'll be back out there."
The play where Thornton apparently was injured occurred with 10:47 remaining in the third period. The Sharks were down 4-1, but at least they were showing signs of at least making it an interesting game in the final minutes.
Sharks' Joe Thornton uncertain for Game 5
San Jose Mercury News | May 23