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Ex-Flyer Sharp says series far from over

by Dave Lozo
CHICAGO  -- Patrick Sharp has been flying under the radar during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That tends to happen when you're playing in the shadow of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Marian Hossa and Antti Niemi.

The ex-Flyer had one of the most anonymous four-point games in Stanley Cup history during the second round of the playoffs. Sharp had a goal and three assists in the Chicago Blackhawks' 7-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 of their second-round series, but he had to take a back seat. Toews, who had 3 goals and 2 assists, garnered most of the attention.

Sharp was OK with it, and he's OK with avoiding the spotlight after picking up an assist on Marian Hossa's first goal in eight games as Chicago edged the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

A Sharp has 8 goals and 10 assists in 18 games during the postseason and 4 goals and 6 assists in the last 10 games. He's been a picture of consistency for the Blackhawks. But he could've been front-and-center as the goat after his shot toward an empty net late in the game hit the post and gave the Flyers life in a one-goal game.

After the game, the affable Sharp spoke to reporters in the Blackhawks' locker room.

Q: Did you expect Antti Niemi to bounce back after his poor performance in Game 1 and save the day like he did in Game 2?

Sharp:  He played a great third period in Game 1 and stood on his head today. Philly had a lot of chances there in the third, and he was making great saves. He's a confident goalie back there -- and one of the reasons why we're here.

Q: What is it about him that makes him stay so calm and respond after a bad outing?

:  I think he showed a lot of poise. He made some great saves and doesn't get rattled easily. He played very strong. He seems to play his best in big games, and we got a few more big ones coming up.

: The Blackhawks have won seven straight on the road. Does that give you confidence heading to Philadelphia and the Wachovia Center?

Sharp:  It's a good streak, but it doesn't mean much going into Game 3. Philly is a great atmosphere to play in. Really tough for a road team to go in there and win games. It's going to be a lot of fun going there; it's going to be a tough one, but if we continue to play the way we have the road we should be OK.

Q: Does it feel like Philadelphia is throwing its best game at you?

Sharp:  They're playing good. The series is far from over. They're not going to go away. They've got great players over there, so much talent. We got to keep getting better.

Q:   The Flyers were really applying a lot of pressure during the third period in an effort to tie the game. Did it feel like you were killing a 20-minute power play?

Sharp:  That's what it felt like. It's nice to have a two-goal lead with a little cushion. When they scored to make it a one-goal game, anything can happen. We showed a lot of composure, a lot of poise. I thought we dug in there and battled really hard.

Q: Were you a little surprised to see Ben Eager score a goal like that?

Sharp:  He's got a great shot and he showed it there on that goal. To me, that's playoff hockey -- different guys stepping up every night. You can't rely on one line or two lines to score the goals. He looked like a 50-goal scorer putting that one in.

:   You had a chance to put the game away with an empty-net goal, but you hit the post and kept the Flyers alive. What was going through your mind when you hit the post?

:  I was just hoping they didn't come down and score and I'd have to answer questions about why it didn't go in there. The guys bailed me out there in the last 19 seconds. What are you going to do there? I'm not going to change anything. If I had it again, I'd shoot it just as hard.

:   You wouldn't change anything?

:  Hopefully an inch to the left.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL

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