Sharp ends slump quickly

The Chicago winger got his second goal of the playoffs on Friday in Game 4.

Of all the high-flying forwards on the Chicago roster, none provoked worse memories for the Wild than Patrick Sharp. The winger was his team’s leading goal scorer in last year’s run to the Stanley Cup — and of his 10 postseason goals, five came in a first-round defeat of the Wild.

Sharp followed up with a stellar regular season, stoking expectations that he would provide plenty of firepower again in the playoffs. But entering Friday’s Game 4 against the Wild, Sharp had contributed only one goal and two assists, and his usually precise shot had lost its way. He took the first step toward breaking the slump with his first goal of the series, even as his team’s offense continued to struggle in a 4-2 loss.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville completely reconstructed his lines for Game 4, in part to try and jump-start Sharp. With 39 seconds left in the first period, Sharp collected a pass from new linemate Marian Hossa and carried the puck into the right circle, then slid it between the pads of Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Sharp, who had been on the second line, was moved to left wing on the third with center Michal Handzus and Hossa. He had offered no excuses for his goal drought but said he, and his teammates, needed to play to their strengths to get their offense going again.

“When you lose games and you don’t contribute, it’s definitely frustrating,’’ said Sharp, who scored two game-winners against the Wild in last year’s playoffs. “I know I can be better, whether it’s making plays, whether it’s being more direct with my play, helping out my linemates.

“We trust in our coaching staff to make the right adjustments. As a player, you just kind of put your head down, get yourself ready to play and take the message that the coach is sending.’’

During the regular season, Sharp led the Blackhawks with 78 points, and his 34 goals also topped the team charts. Those totals landed him in the top 12 in the NHL in both categories. His only goal in the first nine games of the playoffs came in Game 6 of Chicago’s first-round series against St. Louis.

Sharp chipped in 10 goals and six assists as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last spring. He led them with 11 playoff goals when they captured the Cup in 2010.

Quenneville, who does not hesitate to shuffle his lines, said the wholesale changes after Game 3 were meant to create more balance throughout the lineup. The coach attributed Sharp’s slump to the extra defensive attention he has drawn in the postseason. As teams tighten their defenses, he said, players who racked up points in the regular season often find their production suppressed. But Quenneville noted that one of the Blackhawks’ primary assets is their bevy of skilled forwards, so Sharp should not feel pressure to carry the scoring load while he seeks to regain his mojo.

“Hopefully, he can get that feeling-good streak,’’ Quenneville said. “At the same time, (Sharp’s) reliability defensively, that’s what we’re looking for, and he’s been fine in that area. Like we say a lot, we don’t care who scores, as long as we get some contributions across the board.’’

Sharp’s teammates aren’t worried, either. Smith said Sharp has been one of the team’s hardest-working players in the postseason, and he believes the tide will turn.

Sharp is counting on it. “I feel good,’’ he said. “I feel ready. There’s a lot more hockey left, I hope.’’

  • related content

  • Wild dominates Blackhawks on both ends to even series

    Saturday May 10, 2014

    The Wild, 5-0 at home in the playoffs with five goals allowed, found an extra gear and tied the series.

  • Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks stepped off the ice during warmups before Game 4 on Friday at Xcel Energy Center. Sharp had only one goal in the playoffs before Game 4, but he scored in the first period.

  • Patrick Sharp (10) slammed Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin in the first period Friday night.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 66 3rd Qtr 4:44
Denver 67
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 1st OT 3:55
Minnesota 2
NY Islanders 1 3rd Prd 13:46
Dallas 1
Anaheim 2 2nd Prd 2:16
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 3 2nd Prd 17:42
Edmonton 0
San Jose 3 1st Prd 5:19
Vancouver 0
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 42 2nd Half 7:22
Clemson 33
Texas A&M 31 2nd Half 7:44
Florida 47
Kentucky 43 2nd Half 12:43
Georgia 45
West Virginia 50 2nd Half 11:25
Kansas 39
Auburn 52 2nd Half 5:30
Missouri 46
Michigan 53 2nd Half 2:13
Northwestern 48
Villanova 42 2nd Half 15:46
Creighton 36
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 57 2nd Half 3:41
Air Force 39
San Jose St 69 2nd Half 2:00
Boise State 83
Nevada 54 2nd Half 2:31
Colorado State 58
UNLV 36 2nd Half 7:34
San Diego State 58
Wyoming 59 2nd Half 0:20
Utah State 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close