In Brian Campbell's mind, he passed all the tests Thursday night against Nashville in his first game in the Blackhawks' lineup since March 14, when he suffered a broken collarbone courtesy of Alex Ovechkin's shove from behind into the boards.
Campbell took a few hits, delivered a hit and made a few successful pinches from the point in the 14 minutes of time he got in the 3-0 win at Bridgestone Arena that evened the best-of-seven series with the Predators at 2-2.
"I fell down at the end there and wasn't expecting it, but it felt good," Campbell said. "There's always going to be something nagging probably going on for a while."
There was a play in the first period in which Campbell was racing back for the puck in his own zone with a Nashville forward in hot pursuit. As Campbell got near the boards he turned and initiated contact instead of letting himself get crunched into the glass.
"I've always been good reading plays and seeing whose coming and making the right decision, protecting yourself a little bit," he said. "It's a challenge to play like that mentally, but it felt better later on."
Campbell made up his mind on Wednesday night to play two weeks ahead of schedule after consulting with the doctors and coaching staff. He said the Hawks' position in the series, down 2-1 to the Predators, influenced that decision.
"It was kind of an option I had and they'd support me if I didn't want to play and I didn't feel comfortable," Campbell said. "I made the decision and said, 'OK, I'm doing it, I'm going.' You've just got to go with it. You can't second guess yourself.
"If it was eight weeks down the line then that would be better, but being down 2-1 in the series I felt like I needed to come back and help out. If we were ahead in the series, I don't think I'd be playing."
Campbell's return gave the Hawks an emotional lift, as did forwards Adam Burish and Bryan Bickell in their first appearances of the series.
"I think it did, and I'm not being a cocky person, "Campbell said. "Adam and myself, we've been around and been through a playoff run with these guys. We were so excited to get back in the lineup, chirping away before the game, trying to get the guys going.
"I went through 68 games with these guys during the regular season and Adam fought back hard from an injury that kept him out all year, and they love seeing that."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville likely will monitor closely Campbell's minutes today in Game 5 at the United Center.
"We were excited to have Soupy back in the lineup," Quenneville said. "We like the speed he provides, the exiting of the zone and his puck possession game."