Andrew Shaw celebrates his third-period goal with teammate Viktor Stalberg Thursday night at Scottrade Center. (UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
By Steve Overbey
The Chicago Blackhawks just keep right on rolling.
Jonathan Toews scored twice and goalies Ray Emery and Corey Crawford combined for a shutout as Chicago beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Thursday to extended its NHL-record season-opening point streak to 20 games.
The Blackhawks have won seven in a row and improved to 9-0-2 on the road. They have accumulated 37 of a possible 40 points this season.
"I just think we're taking pride in playing the game that's in front of us," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're being consistent and everyone is challenging one another."
St. Louis lost for the third time in four games. The Blues fell to 4-5-1 at home after a 30-6-5 home mark last season.
Andrew Shaw added a third-period goal for Chicago, which has won its last four against St. Louis.
The Blackhawks have recorded a point in 26 successive regular-season games dating back to a 6-1 loss to Nashville on March 25, 2012.
"It's cool to be mentioned like that in history," Emery said. "But we've got to continue to play well. We don't expect to go undefeated. We've just got to continue to play well."
Toews scored 12 seconds into the game off a pass from Brandon Saad. It was the Blackhawks quickest goal to start a game this season and the fastest since Dave Bolland scored 10 seconds into a 4-1 win against Dallas on March 16, 2012. Brent Sutter scored the fastest goal in team history, just eight seconds on Feb. 5, 1995 against Vancouver.
The early goal set the tone for the rest of the game.
"It was a good passing play, all five guys touched the puck," Toews said. "I rushed in and went to the net. It was a great way to start the game."
St. Louis captain David Backes said the Blues were never the same after the early tally.
"To give up a goal 12 seconds in is totally unacceptable," he noted. "Especially against a red-hot team."
St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1) lost for the first time in regulation this season.
Crawford was removed after making six saves in the first period. He returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing four games with an upper-body injury. Crawford made 28 saves in a 1-0 win over Columbus. Quenneville said that Crawford is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated on Friday. The upper body injury is not the same one that sidelined him earlier in the month.
Emery made 15 saves over the final two periods. He thwarted Kris Russell from close range in the second period. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk hit the goal post on a power-play attempt.
"The guys played a really good defensive game," Emery said. "I thought it was a real complete game."
St. Louis is 0 for 13 on the power play in its last 13 games.
The Blues (10-7-2) continue to struggle although coach Ken Hitchcock felt his club played well throughout most of the contest.
"The game was right there for us at 1-0," he said. "We probably had more quality chances than they did. But the 2-0 goal took the wind out of our sails."
NOTES - The Blues last home shutout came on March 1, 2011 - a 6-0 loss to Calgary. St. Louis winger Alex Steen did not play and is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. Linemate Andy McDonald has been placed on injured reserve with a left knee ailment. Both were injured in practice Tuesday. ... Bolland did not make the trip due to an upper body injury. The Hawks were coming off a 6-0-1 homestand. ... ... Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds was in attendance. ...A crowd of 19,533 included many Chicago fans who made the five-hour trip to St. Louis. It was the third sellout of the season for St. Louis,