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updated: 3/2/2014 12:03 AM

Sharp gets party going

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  • Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp (10) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the first period of an NHL Stadium Series hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on Saturday.

      Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp (10) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the first period of an NHL Stadium Series hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on Saturday.
    Associated Press

 
 

Just when it seems impossible, the perfect world of No. 10 keeps getting sprinkled with more perfection.

Just when dizzying snow flurries made it look like scoring a goal in the opening period of Saturday night's Stadium Series game at a capacity-filled Soldier Field would be highly improbable, who else but Blackhawks assistant captain Patrick Sharp fired a shot over the right shoulder of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 4:25 left.

"I honestly thought that was game, up 1-0," said Sharp, who leapt and celebrated as if the goal were Stanley Cup Finals-big. "The way the conditions were out there, it was tough to get the puck anywhere near the net. And those guys defend well."

It just seemed right for the right winger, who beat Fleury after Jonathan Toews set him up with a pass from behind the net for the first goal in the first NHL game played at Soldier Field.

Sharp, whose goal helped propel the Blackhawks to a 5-1 win on a night the puck-drop temperature was 17 degrees, returned from Sochi, Russia, just last week after helping Canada win the gold medal. And that probably doesn't even rank as the top highlight in the last year for the man who's graced multiple magazine covers over his NHL career.

After winning his second Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in four years last June, Sharp and his wife, Abby, welcomed their second daughter, Sadie, in October.

On Dec. 27, he celebrated his 32nd birthday by scoring a hat trick in a 7-2 win over Colorado at the United Center.

Then in January, Sharp was named to his first Olympic team.

His goal Saturday night, in front of an announced crowd of 62,921, was his 29th of the season and warmed up icy Blackhawks fans. Nick Leddy also assisted and joined in on a celebration that nearly got comical.

"It was a pretty funny picture," Toews said. "I knew (Sharp) was going to jump into me, and I think Nick Leddy got caught right in the middle. We were just excited to score a goal in the first. It was a great feeling to be able to get our team on the board. The excitement just carried on for the rest of the game."

Sharp earned a second point in the game when he assisted on Toews' second goal late in the third period.

As the snow tapered off significantly after the first period, the Blackhawks kept putting pucks on the Pittsburgh net. By game's end, every guy on the ice wearing a black sweater wore a wide smile.

"Our team took this game seriously. We wanted to win," Sharp said. "But at the same time, we were out there having fun. This was the second time a lot of us have been through this (outdoor game) experience, with the game at Wrigley (Field) in 2009. We had a blast playing in that one, as well.

"The only difference is that we won this game."

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