Brandon Saad ends 19-game drought with two goals in Game 2
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter May 4, 2014 9:46PM
Updated: May 4, 2014 10:04PM
For Brandon Saad, it was not a matter of confidence. Just a matter of time.
The 21-year-old Saad broke a 19-game goal-scoring drought with a wrist shot from the slot that beat Ilya Bryzagalov in the second period, then added an empty-net goal that put the finising touch on the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory in Game 2 of their Western Conference second-round playoff series.
“I’ve been feeling better and better every game. It’s only a matter of time,” said Saad, who came into the game with five assists in the Hawks first seven playoff games. “It’s nice to get a couple here and some big goals for us.”
Saad’s performance was no surprise to teammate Jonathan Toews.
“I keep telling him every night he’s a monster with that puck,” Toews said. “When he’s on his game, he keeps his feet moving through traffic and he’s slippery. For his size and power, he’s able t somehow get around guys and keep the puck on his stick. When he plays like that he’s opening up room for everybody else.”
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, the Hawks’ leader in blocked shots, took yet another tough one for the team when he was hit around his lower neck by Jonas Brodin’s shot from the point. Hjalmarsson immediately fell to the ice and slowly skated off, but did not miss a shift after being Hawks trainers worked on him.
“He’s a warrior,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We talk about how he blocks a shot and doesn’t miss a shift. But I don’t think we’ve seen him get hit where he did today very often. He’s willing to do everything he can to keep the puck away from the net. He’s special in that area.”
Shaw “likely” for Game 3
Forward Andrew Shaw, who did not play in Game 2 because of a lower-body injury he suffered in Game 1, could play in Game 3 on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
“We’re looking at him likely playing,” Quenneville said prior to Game 2.
Bollig out; Morin in
Forward Brandon Bollig, whose ice time has been limited throughout the playoffs, was a healthy scratch for Game 2. Jeremy Morin replaced him in the lineup and was a minus-1 in 5:42 of ice time. Leddy benched?
Defenseman Nick Leddy played only 46 seconds of the third period. “Coach’s decision,” Quenneville said.
PK still going strong
Leddy had the Blackhawks’ only penalty of the game, a high-sticking infraction in the second period. The Hawks killed the penalty, though Wild forward Dany Heatley somehow missed from right in front of the net early in the kill.
The Hawks are now 31-for-33 on penalty kills in the playoffs — Blues sharpshooter Vladimir Tarasenko scored both times, once on a 6-on-4. They also are 20-for-20 on the penalty kill against the Wild in the playoffs over the last two seasons.
Tough nut to crack
The Wild attempted 50 shots in Game 2, but only 19 reached the net. The Hawks blocked 25 shots.
“They’re good,” forward Zach Parise said. “They play a good system. They’re a mobile D. They block a lot of shots. They’re so good with the puck, they make good plays and they spring their forwards. I think we can probably do a better job against them, making them work more.”