Very quietly, Patrick Sharp is turning into a go-to guy for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sharp will try to lead the Blackhawks to their fourth win in a row on Wednesday night as they meet the Nashville Predators at the United Center for the second time in eight days.
After being acquired from Philadelphia in December 2005, Sharp had 20 goals in 80 games in 2006-07 with Chicago (18-15-2). In just 33 games this season, Sharp already has 18 goals and needs five points to match the career-high 35 he set last season.
Sharp's goal late in the second period Sunday tied the score at 2, and Brent Seabrook's second goal of the game early in the third lifted the Blackhawks to a 3-2 win over Edmonton. Sharp has four goals and an assist during a three-game point streak, a run that started last Wednesday when he scored twice in Chicago's 5-2 win over Nashville.
The Blackhawks played Edmonton less than a day after rallying for a 4-3 overtime win over the Eastern Conference-leading Senators in Ottawa.
"I think we all expected a letdown today," said Sharp, who leads the league with six short-handed goals and eight short-handed points. "To our credit we all showed up and played for three periods."
Chicago, though, played without oft-injured forward Martin Havlat, who pulled a groin in the win over the Senators. Havlat, who missed 22 games this season with a shoulder problem, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and is expected to miss at least a week.
With Havlat out, Chicago will be looking for continued production against its Central Division rival from rookie stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Each of them has points in all three games versus Nashville so far - Kane has totaled three assists while Toews has a goal and three assists.
The Predators (16-16-2) return to Chicago looking for their season high-tying third straight victory. They followed last week's loss to the Blackhawks with weekend wins over Los Angeles and Columbus.
On Sunday, J.P Dumont's goal with 38 seconds to play in regulation stood after a brief video review and the Predators beat the Blue Jackets for the 11th straight time, 3-1.
"I had plenty of time," said Dumont, who has three goals and two assists during a season-high four-game point streak. "I picked my spot. I looked at where it was going and I knew it was in right away."
David Legwand and Jed Ortmeyer also scored and Chris Mason made 30 saves in the win. Should Mason start on Wednesday, he will be trying to forget last week's outing versus Chicago in which he was pulled 5:23 into the contest after giving up goals on his first two shots faced.
"I wanted to get everyone's attention," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of replacing Mason with Dan Ellis. "With it being 2-0 that early in the game, I didn't want to see it get out of hand."
Still, Mason has not lost in his last four starts in Chicago, giving up just eight goals.