Hawks' Sharp has regained his edge
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Patrick Sharp led the team with 11 goals in 22 playoff games.
But it was Jonathan Toews who skated off with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Some thought Sharp deserved more consideration than he received.
"He does a lot of things that maybe go unnoticed and maybe has been a guy that has been overlooked ever since I came here," Patrick Kane said.
Sharp never said a word.
The special feeling Sharp said he gets from scoring a goal hasn't been there much this season. Because of a left shoulder injury that forced him to miss 20 of the final 24 regular-season games, Sharp scored only 6 goals, and 1 of them came into an empty net.
Before he scored 2 goals in the Blackhawks' 5-2 win over Minnesota in Game 2 on Friday, the last time Sharp put a puck past an actual goalie was on March 1 against Columbus.
"I think it's definitely a good start," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "As a goal scorer, once you see one go in the net, you tend to get more chances and more opportunities and see a few more go in, too.
"Ever since I've been here, he's had the knack for finding the open spots and getting shots on net and finding ways to score goals. I'm sure he's excited for being back on the line healthy and also being in the playoffs to prove himself once again."
Sharp gave a big fist pump after scoring his first goal in Game 2.
"It's not a relief, it's just a nice feeling (to score)," Sharp said. "I like scoring goals, everyone that plays the game likes scoring so it wasn't like I was over-thinking or stressing about it."
Sharp's second goal came at 14:08 of the third period was set up beautifully by Kane, whose no-look pass gave his linemate an open net at which to shoot.
"He knew I was there and I think he knew I wanted it," Sharp said. "You just give him the puck in those areas and good things usually happen. I know I got the goal, well, you guys saw it -- it was a heck of a pass."
The Hawks are going to be awfully tough to beat if Sharp is back on his game. He has been excellent so far in both games against Minnesota, even throwing his weight around by sending one of the Wild flying with a check in Game 2.
"I try to do anything I can to help the team this time of year," Sharp said. "I don't think you'll see me putting too many guys into the second or third row, but I can finish my checks just like everybody else. They have to be held accountable too."
Kane knows how valuable Sharp is to the Hawks' success.
'He's a big part of the lineup," Kane said. "He's a guy that can score goals. He's had a knack for scoring goals ever since I've come to this team."
Kane knows all about that special feeling that goal scorers get.
"It's nice. It's a good feeling," Kane said. "I think we all want to score goals. Sometimes you go through little slumps and they're going to happen. It's kind of the way you're working to get yourself out of that slump.
"Sharpie by no means has slacked off in the work ethic department. He's probably one of the hardest workers on the team, especially in practice. You've seen him shoot a lot of pucks lately. It's a credit to him for working hard and getting his goal-scoring knack back."
The Hawks are 27-0-3 with Sharp in the lineup this season.
"That's just a credit to our team," Sharp said. "I missed a lot of hockey this year and it's tough to jump in the lineup after being out for so long. We've got such a good team. They make it easy for me to jump back in there. I don't think that record has much to do with me in particular. We just have a solid team from top to bottom."
The Hawks will be looking to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the best-of-seven series with another win Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.
"I think for sure, going back to their building they're going to come out flying and we're going to have to match the intensity," Brandon Saad said.
• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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