Sharp was told the Blackhawks were 25-0-3 when he played this season, but the media member forgot to add the team’s two playoff games. With Friday’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series, the Blackhawks improved to 27-0-3 with Sharp this season.
“I just got to make sure I play every game then, right?” Sharp said with a smirk.
It might not be fair to place Sharp’s value to the Blackhawks at priceless this season -- he understands that, too, as the following quotes show -- but Sharp continued to prove with two goals in Friday’s victory he can be a game-changer when he’s healthy and in the lineup.
Before others touted Sharp and his importance to the team, Sharp was quick to say his teammates deserved all the praise for what the Blackhawks have done this season with and without him on the ice.
“That’s just a credit to our team,” said Sharp, who missed 20 regular-season games with an upper-body injury. “I missed a lot of hockey this year. It’s tough to jump in the lineup after being out so long. We have such a good team they make it easy for me to get back in there. I don’t think the record has much to do with me in particular. We just have a solid team top to bottom.”
Sharp admitted after Friday’s morning skate he was still fine-tuning parts of his game after being injured for so long. He played in just two regular-season games when he came back from his injury before the playoffs began. On Thursday, he even spent an extra 30 or so minutes after practice working alone on his shot.
For all that extra effort, he was rewarded on Friday. He first grabbed a loose puck behind the net, quickly got it around and then knocked it in to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead in the third period. Later in the period, he finished a no-look pass from Patrick Kane at doorstep of the net.
The two goals were Sharp’s first non-empty-net goals since March 1. He scored six goals in 28 regular-season games.
Sharp didn’t make a big deal out of his goals, but he did enjoy them.
“It’s not a relief,” Sharp said. “It’s just a nice feeling. It’s always nice to score goals. I like scoring goals. I think everyone who plays the game likes scoring. It wasn’t like I was overthinking it or overstressing about it. The puck went into the net.”
Kane never doubted Sharp would eventually find his scoring touch again.
“Sharp has by no means slacked off in the work-ethic department,” Kane said. “He’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team, especially in practice. You see him shooting a lot of pucks lately. Credit to him for working that hard and getting his goal-scoring knack back. He’s been great for us.
“He’s a big part to the lineup. He’s a guy who can score goals. He’s had the knack for scoring goals ever since I’ve come to this team. I’m sure it was a good feeling for him to get on the board again and score like that. I’m sure once he gets one, he’s a guy who probably won’t look back and will stay hot. Nice to have that contribution from Sharpie -- something we expect from him, too.”