ST. PAUL, Minn. – Patrick Sharp shook off a late-game hit, one that sent him falling awkwardly into the boards leading with his left shoulder, the shoulder that sidelined him for a month.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ left wing said he was fine after the game. His play during it showed he was certainly back.
Sharp played nearly 18 minutes and took five shots on goal in the Blackhawks’ 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. Sharp, who missed the last 14 games with an injury sustained March 6 against the Colorado Avalanche, went to the bench wincing after Ryan Suter knocked him near the boards late in the game. But there was no worries afterward.
“He just hit me in a good spot. It was just a little stinger, nothing crazy,” he said. “I’m all right.”
[More: Blackhawks hold on for win over Wild]
Sharp looked all right in his first game back, too. While he said his timing felt a bit off, it wasn’t by much. Sharp was solid in the faceoff circle, winning six of nine draws. And he unloaded a hit early, just to make sure he could dish it out and take it.
“I got a couple of hits early to make sure I felt into the game and was ready to go,” he said. “I felt that line (with Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger) had a lot of opportunities. My timing was off, but for the first game I felt great.”
“He looked really good,” said Kane. “He was strong on the puck and almost had a couple goals. I’m sure he’ll get back in the groove. But for the first game, he looked really good, for sure.”
[Highlights: Blackhawks 1, Wild 0]
Sharp didn’t like missing the last month, especially when he was able to do so much after two weeks out, yet was still so far away from returning. He took the necessary precautions, waited the necessary time. And in his first game back, he looked pretty close to form again.
“It felt like that first game once the lockout ended; it’s tough to miss a month and jump back in,” he said. “But I had good linemates and teammates that made it easy for me. There’s always room for improvement, but for the first day I felt pretty good.”