Blackhawks' Sharp regains scoring touch

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2013 - 8:29 AM

Patrick Sharp missed 19 games in March and April because of injury but is 28-1-3 in the games he has played.

The Blackhawks’ top line, from left, of Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad have zero points as a unit vs. the Wild.

Photo: BRIAN KERSEY • Associated Press ,

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To most observers, it appeared Patrick Sharp had a difficult season. The Chicago winger missed 19 games in March and April because of a shoulder injury, and he had struggled to find his scoring touch.

Sharp didn’t see it that way.

“It wasn’t that tough,’’ he said Tuesday, after scoring two goals — his third and fourth of the playoffs — in a 3-0 victory over the Wild in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. “I won every game I was in.’

Though he was in uniform for only 28 games of the 48-game regular season, Sharp compiled a remarkable streak. Through the first two games of the playoffs, Chicago was 27-0-3 when he played —and though his string was broken with a loss in Game 3 of the playoffs, he has been a major part of the Blackhawks’ surge to a 3-1 series lead.

Tuesday, Sharp deflected a Michal Handzus shot past Wild goalie Josh Harding for the game’s first goal, then fired a wrist shot past backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper only 62 seconds into the second period.

Sharp scored six goals and assisted on 14 others during his injury-plagued regular season. He netted two in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory in Game 2, and his four goals in four playoff games put him in a four-way tie for the most in the NHL playoffs. In 68 career playoff games, Sharp has 27 goals.

“I had a lot of points [in the regular season],’’ said Sharp, a 10-year NHL veteran in his eighth season with Chicago.

“I feel good. I feel confident. I feel strong. Any time the puck is going in, you want to shoot it as many times as you can.’’

Sharp also has an assist in the series, and his five points tie him for eighth place in the playoff scoring race. His production has been timely.

The Blackhawks’ top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa has yet to score a goal as a unit in the playoffs.

While Hossa has a power-play goal and two assists while on the ice with others, Toews and Saad have no points.

Toews was the team’s second-leading scorer in the regular season with 23 goals and 25 assists, and Saad, a finalist for the NHL’s Calder Trophy for top rookie, was the Blackhawks’ fourth-leading scorer with 10 goals and 17 assists.

Their line combined for 50 goals and 56 assists in the regular season. Toews said before Game 4 that it needed to shoot more and create more scoring chances in front of the net. He got three shots on goal Tuesday but remained without a point.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville insisted he is not concerned with the top line’s drought, and he is delighted with what Sharp has done.

“He’s had a good series,’’ he said of Sharp. “I thought he did some good things throughout the game, in all areas of the ice.

“I still think there’s some production coming [from the top line]. It’s tough to forecast that. In the end, I don’t care where the production comes from.’’

Neither does Sharp, who remained more focused on the result than the stat sheet.

“The wind was kind of taken out of the building,’’ he said of the reaction after his second goal Tuesday. “We like the way it ended.’’

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