ST. LOUIS – The wins keep coming for the Chicago Blackhawks. Still, goalie Ray Emery is taking a realistic approach to their record-setting start.
“I know we’re not going to go unbeaten,” he said.
The way the Blackhawks are going, Emery may be selling his team short.
Jonathan Toews scored twice, and Emery and Corey Crawford combined on a shutout as the Blackhawks extended their NHL-record season-opening points streak to 20 games with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Andrew Shaw also scored for Chicago, which was coming off a 6-0-1 homestand and improved to 9-0-2 on the road. The Blackhawks, who have won seven in a row overall, have earned 37 out of a possible 40 points this season with a 17-0-3 start.
Chicago has a point in its last 26 regular-season games since a 6-1 loss on March 25, 2012 to Nashville. The Blackhawks, playing their first road game in 18 days, have won four in a row against St. Louis, which has lost three of four.
Crawford was pulled with an upper-body injury after making six saves in the first period. He missed four games earlier this month also with an upper-body injury and returned to the lineup Sunday, making 28 stops in a 1-0 win over Columbus. Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Crawford is day to day, and it wasn’t the same injury that previously sidelined the goalie.
Emery made 15 saves over the final two periods, as he and Crawford finished with 21.
“It’s kind of cool to be mentioned in history,” Emery said. “But we’ve just got to continue to play well.”
Emery was sharp in relief of Crawford. He stopped Chris Stewart from close range midway through the second period. Kevin Shattenkirk hit the post on a second-period power play.
“I was kind of surprised going in in the second period, but I’ve got to be prepared for that,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Toews scored his eighth goal of the season just 12 seconds into the game off a cross-ice pass from Brandon Saad. Marian Hossa started the play after Toews won the game’s opening faceoff. The goal was the fastest at the beginning of a game by a Chicago player since Dave Bolland scored 10 seconds into a 4-1 win against Dallas on March 16, 2012.
Toews also scored on a scramble in the front of the net at 6:53 of the third period. But it was Toews’ early goal that set the tone.
“It was a good passing play, all five guys touched the puck,” he said. “I rushed to the net and it went in off my stick or my shin pad. It doesn’t matter to me. But it was a great way to start the game.”
St. Louis captain David Backes said the early going was difficult to overcome.
“To give up a goal 12 seconds in is totally unacceptable,” Backes said. “Especially against a red-hot team.”
The Blackhawks played 10 of their first 12 games on the road. They play three of the next four at home.
Quenneville said consistency is the key to his team’s impressive run.
“I think we’re taking pride in playing the game that’s in front of us,” he said. “Everyone is challenging and pushing one another.”
Shaw made it 2-0 early in the third period when he converted from the slot off a pass from behind the net by Bryan Bickell.
Toews pumped the lead to a 3-0 with his ninth goal of the season.
Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for the Blues, who fell to 4-5-1 at home. St. Louis was 30-6-5 at home last season. Halak lost for the first time in regulation this season.
St. Louis is 0 for 13 on the power play over the past five games. The Blues’ last home shutout was a 6-0 loss to Calgary on March 1, 2011.
“The game was right there for us at 1-0,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We probably had more quality chances (early) than they did. But the 2-0 goal took the wind out of our sails.”
NOTES: Bolland is out with an upper-body injury. … St. Louis linemates Andy McDonald and Alex Steen both missed Thursday’s game with injuries suffered in practice Tuesday. McDonald is week-to-week with a left knee injury, while Steen is day to day with an upper-body ailment. … Chicago played its first road game since beating Nashville 3-0 on Feb. 10. … Halak is 16-2-1 in his last 19 starts at home. … The Blues outhit Chicago 34-14.