Blackhawks host Blue Jackets, aim to extend record streak
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks have won a lot of close games over their record season-opening point streak, including a slim victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at home last Sunday.
The Blackhawks look for a more comfortable win in Friday night's rematch as they try to extend their point streak with a 10th straight victory over the Blue Jackets.
Chicago has won seven straight and has notched at least a point in all 20 games this season to set a new NHL record, going 17-0-3. Its current string of victories included a span of five one-goal victories in a row, among those a 1-0 win over visiting Columbus.
Andrew Shaw had the only goal of the game in the second period as the Blackhawks held on to beat the Blue Jackets at home for a fourth straight time. Columbus hasn't bested Chicago since a Feb. 18, 2011 meeting in the Windy City.
The Blackhawks are 10-0-3 in one-goal games this season, but they had an easier time of things on Thursday night in St. Louis, where they beat the Blues 3-0.
Corey Crawford started the game and made six saves, but did not return for the second period due to an upper-body injury that has him day-to-day. He stopped all 28 shots on Sunday versus the Blue Jackets, his first game since Feb. 12 due to injury.
Crawford was still credited with the win on Thursday, while Ray Emery came in and stopped 15 shots over the final 40 minutes to lower his goals against average and save percentage to 1.92 and .931, respectively. He has won all eight of his decisions this season and is likely to get the start in this game.
He could see the pressure lifted early if Jonathan Toews can duplicate his performance from the Blues game. The Chicago captain notched his first two- goal game of the season, getting his first tally just 12 seconds into the contest.
"To get that lead early in the game like that is a nice boost," Toews said. "As a line it especially gave us some confidence that we can go out there and not have to chase the puck all night."
Shaw also scored and Marian Hossa had two assists for the 'Hawks, who have a point in 26 straight regular-season games dating back to last season.
Like Chicago recently, Columbus is in the midst of five straight games decided by just one goal. However, the Blue Jackets have won only once in that span and are 3-6-3 in games this season decided by the slimmest possible margin.
The Blue Jackets dropped their third in a row overall on Tuesday, falling 5-4 to the Dallas Stars in overtime. R.J. Umberger tallied a game-tying goal with 1:34 left in regulation, but the Stars countered with the OT winner with 1:57 on the clock.
"We've been in a lot of one-goal games lately, but we just can't get over that hump," said Umberger. "We've been staying in these games lately and that's a good sign that we're playing better as a team."
Nikita Nikitin, Cam Atkinson and Derek Dorsett all scored for the Blue Jackets, who went just 3-7-2 in February. Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in defeat.
Already without defenseman James Wisniewski, who was placed on injured reserve after breaking his foot during the loss to the Blackhawks, Derick Brassard suffered an upper-body injury versus the Stars and did not return.
Columbus, though, appears likely to get forward Artem Anisimov back in the lineup for the first time since he exited a Feb. 21 loss in Detroit on a stretcher following a collision behind the net with the Red Wings' Kyle Quincey.
The Blue Jackets' loss in Chicago on Sunday wrapped a 1-5-0 road trip and the club has won just twice in 10 games as the guest this season.
Steve Mason made 26 saves versus the Blackhawks and could get the start on Thursday.
03/01 11:02:18 ET