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Sislo makes NHL debut

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Sislo makes NHL debut
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NEWARK, N.J. — Superior’s Mike Mike Sislo made his NHL debut for the New Jersey Devils in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night at the Prudential Center.

The 25-year-old right winger had spent the past three-plus seasons in the AHL after a four-year stint at the University of New Hampshire. He wore No. 9, the former number of LW Mattias Tedenby, who was placed on non-roster waivers by the Devils on Friday, and skated with fellow rookie Reid Boucher and center Andrei Loktionov on the fourth line.

Sislo, who saw 8 minutes and 29 seconds of ice time, finished with two shots on goal and served a Devils’ too-many-men penalty.

Sislo tweeted after the game, “A little nervous & excited at the beginning, obviously, but as the game went on I felt good & comfortable out there. I’ve always had the confidence that I could make it here and play here. It was just a matter of working hard and paying my dues.”

Prior to being called up, Sislo was second in scoring at Albany with nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points.

As for the game, Patrick Sharp scored three goals — his second hat trick in eight days — as the Chicago Blackhawks used a four-goal outburst in the third period to defeat Devils.

Sharp has 25 goals this season and trails only Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, who has 31. His third of the game with 1:28 remaining in the third period halted a furious Devils comeback and pushed the Blackhawks to 66 points, most in the NHL in this season.

Everyone has their projections for Team Canada, and Sharp appears to be right on the roster bubble.

“My priority right now is the Hawks and that’s the way it’s been all season,” Sharp said. “I think hearing 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 this year and I want to make sure that I show them that I’m worth it.”

Sharp has shown coach Joel Quenneville and the rest of the Blackhawks staff all season that he’s worth it, but he was especially brilliant against the Devils.

His first goal was the result of a Devils turnover inside their own zone, which occurred not long after Sharp was denied by goaltender Martin Brodeur. Sharp did not make the same mistake twice, wiring a wrist shot over Brodeur’s catching glove to put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0 early in the second period.

Sharp’s second goal occurred early in the third period and extended the lead to 3-1. He took a feed from defenseman Brent Seabrook in the corner and ripped a bad-angle shot into the far corner.

The lead was pushed to 4-1 on a goal by right winger Marian Hossa, but Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored twice to cut the lead to a goal. That’s when Sharp answered on a breakaway with 1:28 remaining, salting the game away by stepping around a sprawling Brodeur and stashing the puck into an open net.

Sharp has nine goals in his past six games, and captain Jonathan Toews has enjoyed being part of the offensive binge.

“He’s confident. He’s flying. He has lots of energy. It’s great to see,” Toews said. “Everything that touches his stick ends up in the back of the net, so for myself, I’m just trying to make some space for guys like him and (Hossa). If our line is scoring, it doesn’t matter who is doing it, but Sharp is obviously been hot, so hopefully it will continue that way.”

It was a wild final 20 minutes after the first two periods were played evenly. Devils defenseman Andy Greene answered Sharp’s first goal 43 seconds later to tie the score at 1. It would remain that way until Blackhawks left winger Brandon Saad scored early in the third period.

The Devils lost their focus as Sharp and Hossa capped a four-minute stretch in which the Blackhawks scored three times and it cost them a chance at two points.

“We played a solid 40 minutes there,” Devils right winger Stephen Gionta said. “I don’t know what the difference was in the third, but we just didn’t have it there in the first 12 minutes and that hurt us in the end.”

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said, “We have to play a perfect game to beat that team, especially with (center Patrik) Elias out of the lineup. We didn’t finish in the second period on some of the chances we had.”

NOTES: Blackhawks G Jason LaBarbera was expected to be sent to the minors after the game, leaving G Antti Raanta as the primary backup to starting G Corey Crawford. ... Devils C Patrik Elias (lower body) did not play and will be out through the weekend. ... Devils LW Ryan Carter returned after a 15-game absence due to a knee injury.

The Reuters Sports Xchange contributed to this story

Ken Olson
(715) 395-5023
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