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Sports

June 22, 2013

NHL PLAYOFFS NOTEBOOK: Sharp hears it from teammates

Fall while celebrating goal grist for ribbing from fellow Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Yes, Patrick Sharp is getting a bit of grief from his teammates after he tumbled to the ice while celebrating a rare power-play goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.

It’s OK. Sharp is having too much fun to care.

“I know I enjoy playing in games that mean a lot,” said Sharp, who leads the NHL with 10 playoff goals. “I enjoy the big stage. I think we have a lot of players in this room that do that and that’s the reason why we keep getting back here.”

Sharp has been a key playoff performer for Chicago once again after he missed 14 games during the regular season with a shoulder injury. The talented wing had 11 goals and 11 assists in the postseason when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

He has six assists this year, making him a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.

“The last few games, he seems like he’s getting the puck a lot more and getting opportunities around the net,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Sharp’s third-period rebound score gave the Blackhawks a 5-4 lead at Boston on Wednesday night. They went on to 6-5 overtime victory against the Bruins, tying the series at two games apiece heading into Game 5 on Saturday night.

Sharp pumped his right arm after his 33rd career playoff goal, and then fell down near the boards.

“It’s a little embarrassing, not proud about it,” Sharp said after practice on Friday. “I was excited. It was a big goal. I thought it might have been the difference in the game, so I was just showing my excitement. Probably could have been on the trainers to sharpen my skates a little bit better, though.”

Patrick Kane was standing nearby when Sharp went down.

“I probably should have grabbed him when I was close to him in the corner,” Kane said. “But I know when someone messes up one of my celebrations, I tend to get mad so I let him go. Now, he’s saying I should have grabbed him. It was pretty funny, especially at the end.”

Power play

It’s been all Boston so far when it comes to special teams.

The Bruins have scored four power-play goals in 14 opportunities over the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals, compared to just one in 15 chances for the Blackhawks.

Boston began the series with seven postseason goals with the man advantage.

“I think we’ve added some new personnel in there, and we’re moving the puck well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

“Right now we’re playing with a lot of confidence on the power play. It’s like anything else, confidence is a big part of the game, and when you start feeling it, you try and hold onto it as long as you can.”

Chicago’s penalty-killing unit was having a terrific postseason, allowing just three goals in 58 power-play chances coming into the finals. But Boston has three power-play goals in the last two games alone.

“They’ve got some guys with patience with the puck and they’ve got some guys that can make plays and they’ve got some big shooters, so that’s always an ongoing challenge,” Quenneville said.

Weak glove?

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford isn’t sure what he can do to protect his glove side.

For that matter, he’s not sure he even wants to do anything about it.

All five of Boston’s goals were to his glove side in Game 4, and while Crawford planned to look at the video, he doesn’t want to overcompensate.

“We see they’re shooting on the side a lot more, but for me, nothing changes,” he said. “I can’t cheat to that side ... because it’s just going to get me in trouble. Last series it was the blocker side, so it’s just something they’re shooting a lot more and I’m just going to keep playing my game.”

Meanwhile, Julien insisted the Bruins weren’t targeting his glove, that they were just taking advantage of their openings.

“We happened to shoot there because that’s where the opening was at that time,” he said. “But I think you can score on other areas, hopefully, on Corey Crawford, than just the glove. It’s just one of those games where a lot of them went in on that side.”

The five goals allowed matched a season-high for Crawford, who has otherwise been terrific in the postseason.

He still has a .931 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average in the playoffs. And coach Joel Quenneville insisted this week he’s not considering a switch to Ray Emery.

“I didn’t play the puck as well as I would have liked to ... just the little things,” Crawford said.

“We’ll look at it, we’ll look at the video. It was a game where it was a battle and you just had to battle through it, and our guys did an awesome job.”

Comeback kids

The Bruins are never out of the game.

They trailed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 with less than 11 minutes left in the third period of Game 7 in the first round and came back for a 5-4 overtime victory.

They trailed 1-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against Chicago, and took the Blackhawks to overtime before losing 6-5 on Brent Seabrook’s score.

Julien said the team remains fairly calm no matter what kind of situation it’s facing.

“Panic isn’t something that our team does,” he said.

 

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