Patrick Sharp gets another hat trick in Blackhawks’ win over Devils
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 3, 2014 8:32PM
Updated: February 5, 2014 6:09AM
NEWARK, N.J. — Patrick Sharp slammed his stick in frustration, trudging off to the bench after his shot from the point careened off the far post on a power play early in the first period Friday night at the Prudential Center. A short while later, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur stuffed Sharp on the doorstep.
‘‘Maybe earlier in my career, I would have been frustrated hitting the post or getting stopped by a big save,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘But I’ve played long enough and I think I’ve scored enough to realize that you just keep playing your game and you’re going to get chances.’’
Indeed, these days for Sharp, it always seems to be just a matter of time.
Sharp posted his second hat trick in five games as the Blackhawks broke open a close game in the third period for a 5-3 victory, extending the team’s point streak to nine games. The Hawks scored three times in a four-minute span early in the third, the highlight being Sharp’s rising wrist shot from a ludicrous angle along the goal line.
Duncan Keith, who was plus-4 on the night along with Sharp and Jonathan Toews, had three assists in the third period to spark the win.
“What a period, what a game,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘That line was spectacular tonight. They were a threat and dangerous all night, with nice rush goals, and that spectacular shot from an impossible angle. They did it all.’’
Sharp now has nine goals in his last six games and passed Patrick Kane for the team lead with 25 on the season. The downside of his scoring binge is that he keeps getting asked about his prospects for Team Canada, which will announce its Olympic roster Tuesday. While Sharp very much wants to make the team, it’s hardly his sole motivation.
He’s finally getting a chance to play on a top line with major minutes. And he doesn’t want Quenneville to take him off of it. Sharp had one goal in the Hawks’ first 11 games while skating on the second line. Since moving up to the top line with Toews and Marian Hossa on Oct. 28 in Minnesota, he has 24 goals in 33 games.
‘‘I’m getting a bigger opportunity from Joel and the coaching staff this year,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘And I want to make sure I show them that I’m worth it.’’
Quenneville’s a believer. Sharp’s teammates are, too. It’s hard to imagine that Steve Yzerman and Team Canada can think otherwise at this point.
‘‘I haven’t seen too many guys score like he is right now,’’ Keith said. ‘‘If any.’’
The game was tied 1-1 through two periods on goals by Sharp and Andy Greene. Then, after five somewhat sluggish periods on their trip to the New York suburbs, the Hawks found another gear in the third. First, Kane’s centering pass ticked off Brandon Saad’s skate, then Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky’s skate 90 seconds into the third. Barely a minute later, Brent Seabrook (two assists) fed Sharp in the corner, where he unleashed his extremely sharp-angle shot that beat Brodeur. Less than three minutes after that, Hossa snapped a seven-game goal drought with a wrist shot through traffic.
Zidlicky made things interesting by scoring twice and drawing the Devils to within one, 4-3, but Sharp sealed it with his third goal with 1:28 left.
The Hawks improved to 8-0-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season, and Sharp inched ever closer to that trip to Sochi.
‘‘It’s just a result of good players I’m out there with making good plays,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘It’s all the hard work you put in as an individual when you’re not scoring, and you’re not playing well. It’s a good run for our team, it’s a good run for me, and hopefully we can keep it going.’’