Blackhawks' Saad relieved controversial Game 7 call didn't come back to haunt him
Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad recently joked that a Stanley Cup Final between his Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins would be perfect, so long as his Blackhawks emerged the winner against his hometown team.
Both remain on pace for a possible showdown — the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings will attempt to have their say, of course – but Saad played a bizarre role in his team's near-dismissal from the postseason.
Chicago appeared to score in the final moments of the third period in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit, but a controversial penalty that is the talk of the hockey world interfered. An instant before the Blackhawks appeared to take a 2-1 lead, referee Stephen Walkom (a Moon resident) whistled the play dead.
Saad had been slammed to the ice by Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey in front of the bench area, and curiously, both players were given penalties even though Saad's behavior seemed perfectly in line.
“Obviously, I wasn't happy with the situation at the time,” Saad told the Tribune-Review on Thursday.
Neither were the Blackhawks, who were stunned that defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson's goal didn't count. Many of the Penguins were watching from home couldn't believe what they were watching.
“Interesting ending,” right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “Getting a call like that, with 1:47 left? I'm kind of glad, for his (Walkom's) own good, that Chicago won the game.”
The win wasn't a bad thing for Saad, either. The fact that he and Quincey were penalized, nullifying what almost surely would have been the game-winning goal, wouldn't have sat well with the Calder Trophy candidate during the summer had the Red Wings won in overtime.
“I just wanted to stay focused and get the job done in overtime,” he said.
Saad said he never received an explanation for the penalty call from Walkom, who will work the Western Conference final.
The surprising call was the talk of the Penguins locker room Thursday. Most of the Penguins seemed miffed by it, though a couple actually pointed out that Walkom did nothing wrong because, as the trailing referee, he was supposed to be monitoring the scrum around the benches.
“Obviously, if I'm Chicago,” defenseman Mark Eaton said, “I would have been upset. But refs have a tough job.”