Leddy's playoff breakout well timed

April, 22, 2012
4/22/12
1:36
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy’s first comments to the press after his team’s 2-1 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 on Saturday said it all.

“It was long overdue,” he stated with a smile. “It felt great.”

Leddy scored the tying goal in the third period and quite possibly for the first time in his career led the Hawks in shots on goal with five.

“I just tried to get it on net,” Leddy said. “That was a big thing Q [Joel Quenneville] was telling us before the game. Just get pucks to the net.”

In fact, beforehand Quenneville said he wanted his defense more active throughout. Leddy took that to heart, buzzing around the offensive zone while firing pucks whenever he could. Just after scoring his goal he had another chance on the power play with Coyotes goalie Mike Smith down and out. Leddy had the whole top of the net to himself.

“I guess I got a little nervous and it went over the net,” he said.

He’ll be forgiven, considering the night he had and the way he bounced back from a tough Game 4. He was in the middle of the action when Mikkel Boedker scored the game-winner after Leddy misplayed a puck near center ice.

“I thought Nick had a good game, coming up the ice with his speed,” Quenneville stated. “Had a couple shots himself and that one got through.”

It’s a far cry from just a day earlier when Quenneville said he and his defensive partner Johnny Oduya had to “be better.”

“We’ve been playing great,” Leddy said. “Just a few bounces haven’t gone our way.”

That’s a polite way of saying they haven’t made the bounces go their way but Leddy was aggressive on Saturday which marked his early season play. Maybe he’s getting a second wind after some maligned play in the series.

“It felt great,” he stated for a second time.

Maybe he needed to say it and hear it again.

Toews’ winner

Shortly after a faceoff in the offensive zone with a couple minutes gone by in overtime, Jonathan Toews found the puck on his stick.

“I ended up getting the puck in open ice in the middle,” he explained. “I felt like I had enough time to get my head up and make a clear shot and look for some open space. Went blocker side and it went in.”

Toews didn’t disagree it was one of the bigger goals of his career considering the stakes.

“For myself, I just had a feeling something good was going to happen,” he said.

Maybe because he was one of the hardest working Hawks on the ice on Saturday. It was his best game since Game 1.

“The series is far over,” Toews stated. “We’re not going to give them anything easily.”

Slappers

• The Hawks and Coyotes are only the second playoff series ever to go to overtime in five games.

Brandon Saad was credited with his first career point with an assist on Leddy’s goal in the third period. Michael Frolik earned a point in his third straight playoff game.

Viktor Stalberg took four minor penalties in the game. He was called for roughing in the first, slashing and tripping in the second and interference in the third. They were the only penalties the Hawks took in the game.

Quotable

“Tough on the ticker. Never a dull moment. At least we didn’t have to wait to pull the goalie this time,” -- Joel Quenneville, on every game in the series going to overtime.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26