Patrick Sharp spent a decade in Chicago and left as a lifelong member of what some have called a dynasty. His former team is about to get a close-up view of his new project.
Sharp and the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars seek their third straight win Tuesday night when the second-place Blackhawks visit.
Sharp spent the last 9 1/2 seasons in a Blackhawks uniform and won three Stanley Cups before he was traded to Dallas in July. He waived a no-trade clause in his contract in the offseason to join an emerging Stars squad.
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The 13-year veteran has been a key piece of a team that has yet to lose consecutive games and owns a Western Conference-best 25-7-2 record. The Stars' 52 points are tied with Washington atop the league, eight more than Chicago and St. Louis in the Central.
Sharp is fourth on Dallas with 25 points - 11 goals and 14 assists - but with a team featuring eight players 24 years old or younger, the 33-year-old left winger provides much more.
"You can tell he is an experienced player," Jamie Benn told the team's official website. "On the bench in the intense situations, he's telling guys to keep playing and be composed out there. There is no need to panic. It's nice to hear that sometimes."
Sharp's even-keeled demeanor may have come in handy earlier this month when the Stars failed to record a point in two of three games for the first time. They answered with convincing wins of 6-2 over Montreal on Saturday and 6-3 at Minnesota on Monday, improving to 8-2-2 in their last 12 games.
Sharp had a goal and an assist against the Canadiens and added an assist versus the Wild.
He helped the Blackhawks to an 11-3-0 record against Dallas since March 16, 2012, but the Stars have won the last two meetings.
The two victories were part of last season's division-worst 8-14-7 record within the Central, a major factor in missing the playoffs. Monday's win was the first game of a stretch of five of six against divisional opponents, and Dallas is 4-2-0 against the Central while Chicago is 4-5-1.
''It's going to be a fun game,'' Chicago forward Andrew Shaw said. ''They're a high-energy team with a lot of speed and skill.''
While Dallas has been consistent all season, Chicago (20-11-4) is hot of late with three wins in a row and five in six games.
Patrick Kane's 26-game point streak ended in the lone loss during that stretch, but he has two goals and two assists in the last three - moving his NHL-best point total to 50. He leads the league with 29 assists and is one goal behind Benn with 21.
Kane logged a goal and an assist in Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over San Jose. He assisted on the game-winner by Jonathan Toews, his third overtime goal this season.
Chicago will likely face another former teammate in goaltender Antti Niemi. Niemi, who backstopped the Blackhawks to the 2010 title, made 30 saves on 31 shots in relief of Kari Lehtonen on Monday. He is 3-7-1 with a 3.16 goals-against average in his last 11 starts against his former team.
Corey Crawford took over following Niemi's departure in 2010, and gets the start. Crawford has a 4.35 GAA and .865 save percentage in his last three starts against Dallas.
Marian Hossa was a last-minute scratch for Chicago on Sunday with an upper-body injury and won't make the trip to Dallas. Coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa could return against Carolina on Dec. 27.