CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks extended their NHL-record, season-opening point streak to 21 games.
It wasn’t easy at home against the team with the fewest points in the league.
Brent Seabrook finished off a 2-on-1 rush at 3:23 of overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blackhawks (18-0-3) have won eight straight overall and haven’t been beaten in regulation time in 27 games, dating to a loss on March 25, 2012, to Nashville.
Chicago put this one in the win column when Jonathan Toews carried the puck down left wing and dished a cross-ice pass to Seabrook, who fired in a shot from the right circle before goalie Steve Mason could slide across the crease.
“It was a great pass by Tazer,” Seabrook said. “I just tried to get up in the play. Tazer had some speed going up, and I tried to help out.”
The Blue Jackets (5-12-4) are saddled with injuries to key players, but they skated toe-to-toe with Chicago for much of the game—including leading twice.
“They come out and play 60 minutes hard,” Seabrook said. “There are no easy games, and you can never take a night off.”
Columbus’ Ryan Johansen scored with 7:37 left in regulation to tie it at 3, snapping his 37-game goal drought.
Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell scored 59 seconds apart late in the second period, and Viktor Stalberg also connected in regulation for Chicago, which has earned 39 out of a possible 42 points this season.
Vinny Prospal and Artem Anisimov also had goals for Columbus, which has a league-low 14 points.
“They had us on our heels a couple times,” Bickell said. “They had a late goal, but it was good to see Seebs get on the rush and pop the OT winner.
“We were down early in this game. It shows the character in this room to come back. It’s been fun. We’re just having a blast right now.”
The Blackhawks posted their 10th consecutive win against the Blue Jackets, dating to Feb. 18, 2011.
Ray Emery made 19 saves for the win.
Mason stopped 31 shots as he faced the Blackhawks for the second time in less than a week. He made 26 saves in a 1-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday.
“We did some pretty good things to be able to stick with those guys, but we’re not doing enough to get that next goal,” Mason said. “We knew it would be a real test for us because we had a lot of guys out.”
Earning one point, even in Chicago, wasn’t a moral victory for Columbus coach Todd Richards.
“Regardless of who it us, it’s still a loss,” Richards said. “We still just aren’t quite good enough. We battled and competed, which is what we should do, but we’ve got to find ways to come out on top.”
Anisimov scored in his first game after he missed three because of an upper-body injury. He was hurt in Detroit on Feb. 21 when his head struck the ice.
Columbus has lost seven of eight, with all but one of the defeats by one goal.
Emery relieved Corey Crawford after the first period in St. Louis on Thursday as the two combined to shut out the Blues 3-0. Crawford was forced out by an upper-body injury.
Crawford was back on the bench Friday, serving as Emery’s backup.
The Blue Jackets were again without centres Brandon Dubinsky (knee) and Derick Brassard (upper body) and defencemen Jack Johnson (shoulder), James Wisniewski (broken foot) and John Moore (upper body). Moore was injured Friday during Columbus’ morning skate.
Prospal gave the Blue Jackets the lead just 31 seconds into the game.
Emery made a glove save on Derek Dorsett’s drive from the right circle, but knocked the rebound into the slot. Prospal swooped in and fired the loose puck into the open net before Emery could react.
Stalberg tied it with 3:51 left in the first when he scored a power-play goal from the edge of the crease. Battling in a scrum, Stalberg converted a rebound of Brandon Saad’s shot.
Anisimov put Columbus back ahead with 7:18 left in the second on a screened shot from the right wing. His shot appeared to glance off of Chicago’s Daniel Carcillo before getting past Emery.
Mason came up with several tough saves, but was fooled when Sharp tied it at 2 with 2:40 left in the period. Sharp cut down the left wing and shovelled a backhanded shot from a sharp angle that struck Mason’s blocker and slipped through.
Less than a minute later, Bickell put Chicago ahead 3-2 on a 2-on-1 break with Stalberg.
Columbus’ Mark Letestu and Matt Calvert, and Chicago’s Jamal Mayers all fired shots off the post early in the third.
Johansen scored his first goal since Jan. 24, 2012, with 7:37 to make it 3-3. Following a failed clearing attempt, Johansen took a pass from Nick Foligno, broke in alone and slipped a backhander past Emery.
Mason made two point-blank blocker saves on Stalberg with 2:55 left to keep the game tied.
But Chicago eventually prevailed, again.
“You get that swagger and confidence when you’re on a streak like this.” Stalberg said “You have confidence you’ll find a way to get it done.”
NOTES: Stalberg has 11 goals and two assists in 15 games against Columbus. … Blackhawks C Dave Bolland missed his fourth game because of an upper-body injury. … The United Center crowd of 21,828 was the Blackhawks’ 200th straight sellout. … Columbus recalled D Dalton Prout from Springfield of the AHL. The 22-year-old Prout played in his sixth NHL game.