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Patrick Sharp off to strong start after appendectomy

Patrick Sharp celebrates with Andrew Brunette after scoring against Stars seasopener. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Patrick Sharp celebrates with Andrew Brunette after scoring against the Stars in the season opener. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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The facts: 7:30, CSN, 720-AM.

Updated: January 23, 2012 4:10AM

By all accounts, it was a quiet game for Patrick Sharp.

He won 4 of 7 faceoffs and had a plus-1 rating, but the Blackhawks alternate captain didn’t have a shot on goal and sent four shots wide of the net.

But perhaps the most notable stat from a largely less than noteworthy performance was the 20 minutes, 20 seconds he played in the Hawks’ 5-2 victory Saturday over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the most minutes Sharp has played in nine games since playing 20:54 in the season opener.

“It’s not easy to jump right into it,” Toews said of Sharp, who has had his own preseason after missing the Hawks’ training camp while recovering from an appendectomy. “Even the first couple games of the regular season there’s an adjustment that’s already different from the preseason.”

Sharp said it took him four or five games to finally feel like he had the kind of stamina he wanted. Still, while he was getting his legs underneath him, Sharp reeled off a five-game point streak that included a game-winning goal on the road against the Colorado Avalanche.

“I’m sure there definitely was an adjustment where maybe he didn’t feel the way he wanted to,” Toews said. “But he’s one of those guys where he’s not going to let that bother him even if he’s not 100 percent. He’s going to work through it and find a way to rise above it.”

Sharp has found a way. He is tied with Patrick Kane for the team lead in points with eight and is tied for second with a plus-4 rating.

In an odd turn of events, Sharp also leads the Hawks with 18 penalty minutes after taking a 10-minute misconduct in the second game of the season.

“He was saying he’s the best offensive player in the game because he has the most points and that he’s also the toughest player, too,” Kane said. “Must have got tougher over the season. Maybe that injury toughened him up a little bit.”

Sharp joked last week about defending his place as the Hawks’ resident tough guy from Jamal Mayers, who trails Sharp by one penalty minute.

“I was on top for a while there [with] the most penalty minutes. I think Mayers is catching me,” Sharp said. “Maybe I’ll take another 10 or drop the gloves or something.”

All jokes aside, even without a point in his last two games, Sharp has put together the kind of start that any player could be satisfied with, never mind one who missed all of training camp.

“He’s been a big player for us ever since I’ve been here, and it’s good to see him doing that because I know he wants to get off to a hot start every year,” Kane said. “For him to have that injury probably put him back a little bit, but he’s been awesome.”

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