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Blackhawks extend record point streak to 18 games

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Corey Crawford sat idle the last four games while fellow goaltender Ray Emery had all the fun during the Chicago Blackhawks’ record-setting run to start the season.

Sidelined with an upper-body injury, Crawford bided his time until he regained the net and when he did so Sunday night at the United Center, he discovered things were pretty much the same as when he left: The Hawks are rolling.

“It seems like things haven’t changed,” Crawford said after backstopping the Hawks to a 1-0 victory over the Blue Jackets. “Everyone’s playing hard and making the right plays, not turning pucks over and guys are coming back to help out our ‘D.’ It’s just another solid victory for us.”

It was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive victory and extended their NHL record of games to start a season without a regulation defeat to 18. The Hawks took over third place in the NHL history with their 24th straight game, dating to last season, with at least one point and at 15-0-3 have accumulated 33 of a possible 36 points this season.

Crawford made 28 saves to record his second shutout of the season and seventh of his career as the Hawks clawed their way to a win on what was not their finest offensive night. They managed only a goal by Andrew Shaw late in the second period against a Jackets team that has the fewest number of points in the league this season and was playing the second of back-to-back contests to end a six-game road trip.

“I was seeing the puck well,” Crawford said. “Everyone’s doing their job (and) everyone’s chipping in so it makes it a lot easier for me. (I was) just trying to get that focus and zone back where I’m keeping my eye on the puck all game.”

Shaw provided Crawford all the offense he needed when he scored off a terrific pass from Bryan Bickell, who dug the puck out from the end boards and flipped a blind backhand pass to Shaw and the forward fired a one-timer past Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason to the stick side.

“Johnny (Oduya) cycled it down to Bickell and (he) heard me yelling and made just a great area pass,” Shaw said. “I skated into it and just tried to get it off before the goalie had time to set.”

Mason suffered the tough-luck loss, stopping all but one of the 27 shots the Hawks sent his way.

“They’re a great team, right from their goaltending — both of them — defense, forwards, all the way through,” Mason said. “They have guys that are superstars in this league and they are playing like it right now.”

Next up for the Hawks as they look to extend their streak is a visit from the Oilers on Monday night.

“If we stick to our systems and support each other and just work for each other out there, we don’t know how long this thing can last,” Shaw said.

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