That was the case Wednesday, as Saad put together one of the most complete games of his young NHL career and the Blackhawks stayed alive in the Western Conference finals.
Saad was a major factor for the Blackhawks in their 5-4 double-overtime triumph against the Los Angeles Kings that reduced the series deficit to 3-2.
“Personally, I thought Saad was the best player on the ice tonight,” Kane said. “He was bringing so much speed and puck protection. He was awesome tonight.”
Saad’s stat line speaks to his dominance. The 21-year-old had one goal, two assists, seven shots on net, three hits, three takeaways and two blocked shots. He also was a plus-4 and won 4-of-8 faceoffs. One of those assists came when two defenders converged on Saad and he found a wide-open Michal Handzus in the slot for the winner in the second overtime.
So what got into Saad?
He didn’t want his season to end so soon.
“That’s something you want to leave it all on the ice,” Saad said. “We had a good team game and stuck together throughout the whole thing.”
That Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville stuck with the line of Saad, Andrew Shaw and Kane for much of the game also benefited the squad. Shaw had two assists and was a plus-3, and Kane had four assists and was a plus-3.
Kane had just a single point in the conference finals prior to Wednesday, and Shaw had none.
Saad could feel that line clicking throughout the game.
“We had a big night,” Saad said. “It feels good to get the offense going. We have to keep getting better because it’s going to keep getting tougher. We’ve got some chemistry in the past. I think we came out flying and working hard tonight.
“We have skill on our line. If we work hard, the rest is going to take care of itself.”
Quenneville doesn’t use them often, but he has a couple of favorite adjectives when he’s really impressed by a performance. He used one in speaking about Saad on Wednesday.
“I thought he had a special night,” Quenneville said. “He had a lot of speed. You look at Shawsy's contribution, Kaner's contribution, it was one of those nights where everything fell in there nicely.”