Thursday, June 13, 2013
Saad scores memorable first playoff goal
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Brandon Saad never stopped believing his first career playoff goal would come this season.
Saad went goalless in five games against the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference quarterfinals, in seven games against the Detroit Red Wings in the conference semifinals, and in five games against the Los Angeles Kings in the conference finals. Throw in the two playoff games in which Saad appeared in 2012, and he was without a goal in 19 career playoff games.
Going into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, Saad joked after the morning skate that he was possibly saving all of his goals for the final round.
Less than 10 hours later, Saad's joke became a reality.
With the Blackhawks down 2-0 in the second period on Wednesday night, Saad prepared himself in the left circle for a pass, received the puck from Marian Hossa, quickly turned his hips and fired a shot that beat Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask at 3:08.
At the sight of the goal, Saad's face lit up with a smile and he threw his arms up into the air, and then he was swarmed by his teammates.
Saad said he couldn't have scripted his first career playoff goal any better. It sparked the Blackhawks and their fans and was the team's first tally in a 4-3 triple-overtime win over the Bruins in Game 1.
"Especially to be in the position we were in, to get a goal there and get us back in and cut the lead in half," Saad said. "Especially to help the team, it's always nice to score.
"It's always a little bit frustrating when you want to produce and help the team. To break through tonight was huge for me."
Saad said his game got a jump-start by his being placed with Hossa and Jonathan Toews on the team's top line again. Saad played most of the regular season with Hossa and Toews but was moved to the third line for much for the playoffs when his production declined.
"Those are great players to play with," said Saad, who had nine shots on goal in the win. "To get the opportunity back, to produce a little bit, that's always nice."
Toews was pleased to be playing with Saad, but he was even happier to see Saad come through with his goal, for many reasons.
"It was huge for him, huge for our team," Toews said. "That was a timely goal. I think we need something to get our crowd into it and give us energy on the bench. It was a great shot by him. I think as a line with Hoss, Saad and myself, we created quite a bit of offense tonight. For him to get one tonight, that was big for us. We want to keep playing well."