The Blackhawks have talked about raising their game to a playoff level.
They got there Friday night.
Turning in probably their best team effort since winning in San Jose on Jan. 31, the Hawks outworked and outhustled the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 overtime victory at the United Center.
Brent Seabrook's blast from near the blue line past a partially screened Martin Brodeur at 3:36 of OT gave the Hawks their third straight win and kept them 2 points ahead of Vancouver in the battle for fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Hawks and Canucks collide Sunday night at the UC.
"I think that's the type of playoff hockey that we need to be playing here right down to the end," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Over the final 40 minutes, the Hawks consistently beat the Devils to loose pucks and won most battles.
"A lot of nights just coming up with a loose puck can be the difference," Quenneville said. "Against that team, that's a pretty good measuring stick."
The Hawks got 42 shots against the NHL's fourth-best defensive team, which didn't sit well with New Jersey coach Brent Sutter.
"In the second period we got caught playing run-and-gun hockey, and that's not the type of team we are," Sutter said. "They like to play that way, but it doesn't mean we have to play it. Still, we got 1 point in a tough building against a very good hockey team."
The Devils took a 2-1 lead out of the first period on goals by Zach Parise and Paul Martin, but the Hawks started pressing in the second and tied it on Martin Havlat's goal at 14:23.
Nikolai Khabibulin (28 saves) held the fort the rest of the way.
Havlat beat Brodeur with a wicked wrist shot from between the circles for his 26th goal of the season.
"He's having a remarkable year overall," Quenneville said. "He has tremendous touch and feel on the ice and scored a timely goal against New Jerset's top line."
Havlat also set up Seabrook's game-winner in another sparkling performance.
"He's pretty unbelievable right now," said Kris Versteeg, who scored the Hawks' first goal on a highlight-reel goal top shelf on Brodeur. "It's pretty scary how he can move with the puck and move without the puck and get open in tight areas."
The Hawks now have earned 8 out of a possible 10 points in their last five games after dropping five of six.
"Our starts are a little better," Seabrook said. "We're working harder and playing from the drop of the puck right through to the end. We're all battling out there together, working hard and trying to be as physical as we can. We're playing a real team game right now."
The Hawks have nine games to play with the biggest one right ahead of them on Sunday against the Canucks.
"I think everybody is aware of the situation and the objective, and I'm sure it will be played accordingly," Quenneville said.