VANCOUVER — The Blackhawks wanted Andrew Ladd back because of the impact he made during the 2010 Stanley Cup run and what he could do this postseason.
He certainly did his part to help them secure that playoff berth this weekend.
Ladd scored the game-winning goal with 2:27 remaining in regulation as the Blackhawks guaranteed another place in the playoffs with their 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Ladd had four points this weekend — his 23rd goal of the season tonight and two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Saturday night. It’s what the Blackhawks envisioned when they reacquired him at the deadline.
“Yeah, love the way he played the last couple of games,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Ladd. “He brings that presence, got some pace to his game, has some energy. He was rewarded with some huge goals for us.”
The Blackhawks remain in third place in the Central Division with 95 points. Nashville, idle tonight, is in fourth with 91 points.
Scott Darling collected his second victory in as many nights, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Teuvo Teravainen scored his 13th goal of the season and Tomas Fleischmann scored his fourth since the Blackhawks acquired him from the Montreal Canadiens. Trevor van Riemsdyk had two assists.
On Sunday, that top line of Ladd, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa probably looked its best since being assembled. They, as well as the rest of the Blackhawks, got off to a strong start in this one. And Ladd was rewarded at the end, as he took the pass from Toews to give the Blackhawks the victory.
“I figured as soon as [Toews] got the middle there, probably open up a lane on the back side and I just tried to find a spot and get ready to shoot one,” Ladd said. “Luckily I got a pretty good shot off.”
The Blackhawks had two previous leads in this one, first thanks to Fleischmann and then to Teravainen, who was the beneficiary of a pretty tic-tac-toe from Patrick Kane to van Riemsdyk to him.
“I just found myself in a good spot there and I just gave it to Teuvo,” van Riemsdyk said. “He made a nice shot, just put it under the bar.”
Darling, meanwhile, was good once again. He was critical when the Blackhawks had to kill off Toews’ double-minor high-sticking midway through the third period and he later made a diving glove save on an Alex Burrows shot.
“He was our best player both games,” Ladd said of Darling. “A lot of times, especially in those big penalty kills, he has to come up with big saves. He’s played great for us the last little bit.”
The Blackhawks played better this weekend. They got four much-needed points and may be betting some confidence back. But the Blackhawks aren’t just happy with getting into the postseason. They want to hone their game down the stretch and continue to build off what they did in Western Canada.
“All of these games are valuable right now,” van Riemsdyk said. “We’re just working our way to playing the right way, kind of building momentum that way. We know the importance of every night and we’re trying to make use of every game.”