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Brouwer leads Hawks past Preds

by Brian Hedger /
CHICAGO – There wasn't any physical evidence inside the Chicago Blackhawks' locker room on Sunday night that an angry tirade had taken place in there just a couple of hours earlier.
The lockers and walls were all intact. There weren't any busted sticks lying around. Nobody was curled up the fetal position – though there might've been a few bruised egos that went unnoticed. The only tangible evidence of a player-led scolding during the first intermission of Chicago's 6-3 come-from-behind win against the Nashville Predators at the United Center were the words of those who experienced it.
Asked if it was on par with other players-only blow-ups that he's seen firsthand, Hawks veteran goalie Marty Turco chuckled.
"I think that may be an understatement," said Turco, who got the win by making 20 saves in his first start since Dec. 30 against San Jose. "I think really, in my eyes, it was something that was building up a little bit."
Or a lot. Not only have the Hawks (25-18-4) struggled to achieve consistency, but they've also been unable to shake a trend of dropping games in the third period. Lighting the fuse this time was the way Saturday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Preds ended in Nashville – combined with how this game began.
The Hawks blew a 2-0 lead in the third period on Saturday and then came out 24 hours later taking four penalties in the first period – including one to captain Jonathan Toews just 15 seconds into the game.
Nashville's Martin Erat scored on that one and J.P. Dumont potted one during another Preds power play to take a 2-1 lead into the first break. That's when the eruption occurred inside the Hawks room – led, apparently, by several unnamed players.
On a different team, it could've backfired. On this team, with the fiery Toews as its captain, it didn't.
 "There's nothing that you can't get over as a team," Turco said. "In fact, you usually come together more. If tonight's second and third period were any indication of what happened afterward, that just goes to my point. It was good. Guys care. I promise you, it's easier to just turn the other cheek and go out there and worry about yourself and your business. It's difficult to stand up in front of your peers and say something."
What happened in those last two periods – specifically the last half of the third – was exactly what the Hawks wanted to see. Dave Bolland scored the second of his two goals at 11:58 of the second to tie the game 2-2 and send it to the third knotted at that score.
Dumont then potted his second goal of the game just 3:45 into the third to give Nashville a 3-2 lead before Chicago's Troy Brouwer scored twice in a 40-second flash midway through the final period for the Hawks' first lead.
He scored the first by putting in a rebound of a blast from the point and then beat Nashville goalie Anders Lindback from the slot on the second.
Bryan Bickell (1 goal, 1 assist) and Toews followed with goals to close out the scoring for Chicago, which has now won five of its last seven and took three of a possible four points in a home-and-home series against the Preds (24-15-6).
Toews' goal was the 100th of his career and makes him the third-youngest Blackhawk to accomplish that feat behind Jeremy Roenick and Bobby Hull. However, he wasn't in much of a mood to reflect on his career achievement given the emotional boiling-over the Hawks had.
"A couple guys got fired up and I think it woke the rest of us up," he said. "Everyone's got to bring that once in awhile, and it's good to see sometimes. You don't want to be negative in the locker room or on the bench, but everyone's got to be accountable in here. There's nothing wrong with what went on in here."
Especially when you consider the Hawks don't play again until next weekend with back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in Detroit and then a nationally-televised home game on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
If they'd lost this one and gotten behind Nashville by four points in the standings, the coming week would have a much different feel to it.
 "A few words were said after last night's game and obviously we had a tough start at the beginning of the first period (tonight)," Brouwer said. "Most of (the tirade) was said actually after the first period and it was more of a quiet, 'C'mon guys, we know what to do,' after the second. It was almost that parental, 'I'm disappointed in you guys,' speech after the second. As anyone will tell you, that's almost worse than getting screamed at."
Nashville was the team having its eardrums checked the night before, after the Hawks took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission at Bridgestone Arena. Preds coach Barry Trotz laid into his team then and got similar results – prodding his team to tie it in the third and win it in a shootout.
Having the script flipped just 24 hours later was tough to swallow.
"It was sort of the same thing as (Saturday) night," Trotz said. "They had us down and out in our building and we came back – and they sort of reversed it a little bit."
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