The forward sealed a 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday with a breakaway goal, giving him his second hat trick in a week and his 25th goal of the season.
"My priority right now is the Hawks, and that's the way it's been all season," Sharp said. "You hear stuff about yourself as a player, that kind of motivates you, so there's a little extra incentive to play well.
"But I'm getting a bigger opportunity from Joel [Quenneville] and the coaching staff this year and I want to make sure that I show them that I'm worth it."
Canada will announce its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, with Sharp, tied for sixth in the NHL in scoring, not certain to be named.
He had one of three Blackhawks goals in the first 5:34 of the third period at Prudential Center. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa also helped turned a 1-1 game into a 4-1 lead for Chicago, which is 9-1-3 in its past 13 games, including a 5-2 win against the Devils at United Center on Dec. 23.
"We wanted to play well against these guys after the last game we had," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur told MSG Network. "And I thought the first two periods were great, but the first five minutes of the third period just killed us."
A relatively quiet game turned quickly in the third period.
Patrick Kane took an outlet pass from Seabrook at the center line and skated up right wing. His soft backhand toward the net from near the goal line went in off the skate of Saad at 1:30.
Greene's attempt to clear the zone by batting the puck with his glove was kept in by Keith, who made a point-to-point pass to Seabrook. His diagonal cross-ice pass found Sharp on the left wing, where his sharp-angle shot beat Brodeur high at 2:44.
Hossa completed the outburst at 5:34. A pass from Devils forward Adam Henrique went off the stick of teammate Michael Ryder in the neutral zone, and Keith sent a blind backhand pass to Toews on left wing. He hit Hossa entering the zone, Hossa skated alone between the circles and shot past Brodeur high glove side.
"They have some players that will make plays, hit some shots, like Sharp from no angle, he'll put it in," Brodeur said. "The type of team that you can't let up [against] at all."
The Devils responded with two goals by Zidlicky. Andrei Loktionov stole the puck in the Chicago zone, headed toward the net and passed to Zidlicky, whose low shot slid by Raanta at 7:09.
Zidlicky's second came on a power play 6:28 later. With Kane in the box for hooking Stephen Gionta, Henrique sent a pass from between the circles back to Eric Gelinas at the right point. A pass to Zidlicky at the top of the left faceoff circle was stopped with his skate then sent into the goal at 13:37 to make it 4-3.
"I'm sure they kind of relaxed a little bit [in] their game, but we were able to take advantage of it," Brodeur said. "We were able to get some dirty goals, get back in the game. ... Looked like they just turned it on a little too hard for us early in the third."
Chicago secured the win when Keith's long pass from his zone got by Devils defenseman Jon Merrill to Sharp, who came off the left wing boards for a breakaway, eluding Brodeur to complete his fourth career hat trick.
"A spectacular shot from an impossible angle, he did it all," Quenneville said. "And he gets a big goal when all of a sudden they're pressing and makes a great play off the neutral zone and finishes it."
With 21 points in 13 games since Dec. 8, including three goals and an assist against the Colorado Avalanche last Friday, Sharp has 45 points in 44 games this season.
"I don't know numbers-wise, I think I've felt like this a few times in my career," Sharp said. "And it's just a result of good players I'm out there with making good plays. And 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 keep it going."
After being outshot 37-12 in that loss at Chicago last month, New Jersey went 11:34 without a shot on goal Friday, but wound up with an 8-6 edge after one period, and finished with a 27-24 advantage.
Sharp scored first with a shot from above the circles that beat Brodeur high glove side at 1:34. Gelinas' defensive-zone pass up the middle to Ryder was deflected by Sharp to Toews. His immediate drop pass found Sharp wide open for the hard shot.
On the next shift, a pass from Kane to Sheldon Brookbank in the offensive zone went off the back of Brookbank's legs. Devils forward Steve Bernier possessed the loose puck and fed Gionta on the right wing entering the neutral zone.
Approaching the blue line, Gionta perfectly pitched a pass to Greene between the circles. Greene held off Kane and slid a forehand through Raanta's five-hole at 2:17.
The Devils played without forward Patrik Elias, who was injured Tuesday in a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Forward Mike Sislo made his NHL debut, and forward Ryan Carter played for the first time since Nov. 30, with his line of Bernier and Gionta generating several scoring chances.
"They came out flying in the third period and they scored the goal to go ahead 2-1 and we maybe hit the pause button," Carter said. "I don't think you can do that with a team like that. You blink your eyes, it's 4-1."
|Back to top|