SAN JOSE -- The big questions -- Will injured defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic be in the lineup? Who will be the starting goalie? -- remained unanswered Sunday.
But before the Sharks flew to Los Angeles for Monday night's Game 6 against the Los Angeles Kings, they found themselves fielding other questions as well.
How did a team that looked so good building a 3-0 series lead look so bad at home for Game 5 in their second failed attempt to eliminate the Kings?
And how do the players prevent that last performance from carrying over into their next one?
"That's where leadership comes in," coach Todd McLellan said. "We're still in the driver's seat. We like where we're at. It would have been nice to get a win in Game 4, but it didn't happen. We didn't play well in Game 5 and it didn't happen. I still think we have a great opportunity in front of us."
Vlasic's status was uncertain as he did not skate with the team before it headed to the airport. Saturday night, the Sharks' top defenseman left at 14:09 of the first period after suffering what McLellan said was an upper body injury after being hit on the head by Kings forward Jarret Stoll, who was called for roughing.
With Vlasic's fate likely in the hands of the medical staff, the goaltending decision is actually the only one McLellan probably has control over.
He has pulled starter Antti Niemi in each of the past two games after he allowed a combined eight goals on 45 shots for a concern-causing .822 save percentage. Meanwhile, backup Alex Stalock has stopped all 26 shots he faced in relief.
McLellan's standard response to lineup questions is that he will play whichever player he thinks gives his team the best chance for a win.
"We sit down and we look at past experience," he said Sunday of the process. "We look at how that individual is playing at the moment. We look at how the team's responding around him. We look at the confidence level in that individual. We look at the workload that individual has had. We look at upcoming schedule."
If all those questions lead McLellan to Stalock, he said he's ready for what comes next.
"All year it's been just being ready. If it is, you get a chance and you go in," said Stalock, whose puck-handling skills might also be put to use helping the Sharks fend off the Kings forecheck.
San Jose's own forecheck -- a strength in the first two games of the series -- was part of the problem in Game 5 and, the Sharks hope, part of the solution in Game 6.
"We've just got to get the puck deep," said Mike Brown, right wing on a fourth line that had early success hammering the Kings in their own zone. "I don't think we had that many chances to get a forecheck going the last couple of games."
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's ability to play the puck had a lot to do with that, Brown said, and the Sharks now need to do a better job on dump-ins to keep it away from the netminder.
That was one of the lessons from an extended video session Sunday morning before the team skated. That second look at the team's mistakes also highlighted the fact that some of San Jose's top players weren't generating much offense -- Patrick Marleau had no shots on net, Joe Pavelski had one and Logan Couture had two.
"We didn't have the puck as much, we weren't in their end as much," McLellan said. "It's a lot to do with coming out of our zone and creating speed into their zone."
And one reason the Sharks didn't have the puck as much were the 26 giveaways that showed up on the stat sheet -- the most of either team in any game this series.
The Sharks, of course, do not want to see this go to a Game 7 on Wednesday night back at the SAP Center.
At that point they could become only the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead. San Jose stayed off that list in 2011 when the Detroit Red Wings won three games only to drop Game 7, but tempting fate a second time might be a mistake.