There wasn't a lot of fuss made last spring when the Chicago Blackhawks
landed forward Andrew Ladd
in a minor trade with the Carolina Hurricanes
. Maybe there should have been.
Ladd and linemates Dave Bolland and Martin Havlat combined to rally the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 overtime victory over Vancouver in Thursday night's fourth game of their Western Conference Semifinal series, with Ladd getting the winner on a deflection at 2:52 of OT.
It was nothing new to his teammates, who certainly know what the 6-foot-2, 198-pounder is capable of doing.
"You can only appreciate him by watching him play, being around him and seeing our team play every night," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "I didn't know a lot about him when I first came here, but he's able to do so many little things. He's a big body who enjoys going in front of the net and he was actually there a few times. He's kind of a quiet guy on that line and he doesn't get as much recognition as he probably deserves but does a lot of the grind work for that line."
Ladd and his linemates came through for a win that sends the Hawks back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Saturday night all even at 2-2 -- rather than needing a win to save their season.
Ladd set up the tying goal with 2:44 left in regulation when he dug Bolland's pass off the right-side boards and fed Havlat, who beat Roberto Luongo from the slot with a wrist shot.
"In the playoffs, it's all about other guys stepping up and our team found a way all year; we have great depth," Ladd said. "Marty's goal to tie the game was huge for us. You expect your big-game players to step up when you need them and Marty has done that all year for us. It was a huge turning point in the game."
In overtime, it was Ladd turn to be the hero.
Following a splendid save by Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on Henrik Sedin, Ladd, Havlat and Bolland came back on the return rush. The trio pressured Luongo until Bolland's turnaround rocket from just outside the right circle along the half boards was tipped home by Ladd.
"I just wheeled around and tried to fire the puck low and on the ice. I never saw it go in. I was just stunned because I heard the reaction of the crowd," Bolland said. "It wasn't until I looked up and saw the replay on the Jumbotron that saw that Laddy tipped it in. (Ladd) is a big player and playing with him has been fabulous for me. He clears everyone out and generates big hits out there. You can't move him and he's a tremendous player."
Ladd was extremely satisfied with his team's effort.
"We did a very good job of staying patient and sticking with what we wanted to do and not force stuff," Ladd said. "We may be a young group, but we've learned very quickly."
The 23-year-old said the Hawks refused to quit, even as time grew short and the prospect of beating Roberto Luongo became more ominous.
"He's great goalie and their team did a nice job of keeping guys to the outside," Ladd said. "But we stayed with it and stuck to the game plan."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.