It lasted 17 days and took them through four time zones and into eight hostile arenas, but the Blackhawks' odyssey is finally over.
Already considered a success with victories in five of the first seven games of the NHL's longest road trip this season, the Hawks had one bit of unfinished business Friday night.
But they concluded the journey on a down note, losing 1-0 to the St. Louis Blues before a crowd of 19,150 at the Scottrade Center to cap the second-longest trip in franchise history with a 5-3 record.
The defeat was the Hawks' fourth in five games this season against the Blues and dropped their road record to 16-11-3. St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason had 22 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season and 16th of his career as he outdueled Cristobal Huet.
The only goal came on a four-on-three power play to start the third period. After a scrum ended the second period, Hawks forward Adam Burish was assessed a slashing penalty, and Brad Boyes cashed in 57 seconds into the final period.
"We were very cautious, and they got the better of us on the four-on-three," said Huet, who had 22 saves but dropped to 13-10-3 on the season. "It's tough to play here. They play hard, and they have some good players. It's disappointing, but overall we had a good road trip. We can be proud of what we've done."
Huet was sharp early, including flashing his glove to snare a Boyes shot from the left circle at the 12:33 mark of the first.
Neither team mustered much offense in the opening period, and the second also finished scoreless, though the Hawks had their chances. Andrew Ladd hit the post with a backhand attempt midway through the period, and Troy Brouwer drew iron in the waning minutes.
"We want to win every single game, but it's not possible," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We've had a tough time against this team. They play really well against us. We need to look at this team specifically and figure out what we need to do better to be more successful against them.
"Give them credit for the way they played in their own zone. They played physical. We need to battle a little harder and get better puck support. We didn't shoot the puck enough and create enough in front of their goaltender to get on the board."
On the winning goal, Andy McDonald sent a cross-ice pass to Boyes, and the winger fired a one-timer from the left circle past Huet.
"We didn't have enough guys playing; it was tough to watch," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, who clearly was unhappy the Blues were awarded the power play that led to Boyes' goal. "We have to be better in all aspects."
The Hawks come home Saturday night for their first game at the United Center since a 2-0 loss to the Blues on Jan. 21.
"We can look forward to that," Toews said of the visit from the Dallas Stars. "We have to come out flying."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun