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posted: 1/30/2010 12:01 AM

Blackhawks ace their challenge on the road

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  • Troy Brouwer is mobbed by Blackhawks teammates after scoring in overtime to beat the Sharks 4-3 on Thursday night.

    Troy Brouwer is mobbed by Blackhawks teammates after scoring in overtime to beat the Sharks 4-3 on Thursday night.
    Associated Press


It's finally here: the end of the line for the Blackhawks on their most grueling road trip in recent memory.

The Hawks wanted to bring home at least a .500 record from eight games on the road.


They're sitting at 5-2 after Thursday's dramatic 4-3 win at San Jose in overtime.

They wanted to come home with double-digit points.


They've already bagged 10 of a possible 14 with one last game to go tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center.

Beating the Hurricanes won't be easy, even if they are one of the worst teams in the NHL. Carolina has won three in a row and four of its last five.

Then there is the matter of that six-hour, cross-country flight the Hawks had to make Friday from San Jose that many in the organization felt was ridiculously unfair scheduling on the part of the league.

"Absolutely, it's been a long (road trip)," Hawks winger Troy Brouwer said. "It's tough and it's grueling and guys really want to go home, but we have to take care of business right now."

Brouwer was one of the heroes at San Jose with 2 goals, including the game-winner in overtime on a nifty cut into the slot and shot past goalie Evgeni Nabokov through a Kris Versteeg screen.

Brouwer has 17 goals and has been a force ever since becoming a permanent fixture on the Hawks' first line with Toews and Patrick Kane.

"He's got some size and he's one of those power forwards that's got a little skill and patience with the puck," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's got a great shot as well. Brouw's certainly not one-dimensional. He's got a decent set of hands."

Maybe the most impressive thing about the Hawks' win in San Jose was how they wrestled the momentum back after the Sharks erased a 3-0 deficit to make it a 3-3 game.

"We've been doing it way too much lately, letting teams back in the game," Brouwer said. "We can't do that if we want to be a successful team, especially in the playoffs. We really have to tighten up that area, but at the same time we showed a lot of character in limiting their chances and regain the momentum."

The Hawks had 18 shots on goal in the third period and were the more dominant team in the last 10 minutes and overtime.

"I think we came out in the first period and caught them off guard a little bit," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We knew they were going to come back hard in their own building. We knew it was going to be a tight game until the end. It's tough to dominate a team like that for three periods."

Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet was huge with 34 saves in regulation while the Toews line along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook kept the Sharks' big line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau off the score sheet.

"All in all, I think we checked well with our sticks and kept them on the perimeter for the most part," Toews said. "It definitely was a good way to measure ourselves as far as how we're developing as a team. That game could have gone either way, but we're glad we worked hard and got the result we wanted."