CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw's goal late in the second period wasn't pretty, but it was all the Chicago Blackhawks needed to remain the only undefeated team in regulation play this season, extending their league record to start a season to 18 points with a 1-0 win Sunday over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Chicago improves to 15-0-3, tops in the NHL.
And while they were outshot by Columbus 28-27, the Blackhawks' defense continually stopped Blue Jacket power-play opportunities to remain the league's best team by far.
But give props where they're due. For a team that came into Sunday night's game with a league-worst 5-11-2 record, Columbus played a surprisingly stingy defense, keeping Chicago from scoring on several opportunities, particularly on the Hawks' strength, the power-play.
The brunt of the credit goes to Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason, who turned back the first 19 of Chicago's shots in the first two periods until Shaw (fourth of the season) found an opening past Mason at 18:33 of the second period to put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0.
It was Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's seventh career shutout and the second of this season.
If there was a bit of concern in the game, it's that Chicago did appear a bit sluggish and tired, not playing with their typical spark. They started Friday's game against San Jose in the same fashion, but were able to bounce back and regain momentum later in that game.
Against the Blue Jackets, however, the Blackhawks appeared listless at times, which was readily apparent against a team like Columbus, which has hadn't had many strong games thus far this season.
Still, in the end, Chicago kept its winning streak going -- and doesn't appear ready to let it end anytime soon.
NOTES: To put the Blackhawks' record-setting season start (at least one point in their first 18 games) into perspective, they have gone through more than one-third of the lockout-shortened 48-game season without a loss in regulation time. ... After Ray Emery did a phenomenal job in goal, winning the Hawks' last four games and compiling a career-best 7-0-0 mark to start the season, he received a much deserved rest Sunday. Crawford, who missed the last four games with an upper body injury, was back in the nets. However, look for Emery to be back in goal on Monday as the Hawks conclude their season-long, seven-game homestand against Edmonton. The Hawks play at St. Louis on Thursday before returning Friday to host the Blue Jackets for the second time in a week and the third and final time during the regular season (Chicago beat Columbus 3-2 on Jan. 26). ... The Hawks came into the game leading the NHL with a league-low 32 goals allowed to opponents. ... Columbus winger Jared Boll leads the league in a dubious category, fighting majors (seven). ... The Blue Jackets return home to host Dallas on Tuesday before returning to Chicago on Friday. After that game, Columbus will play nine of its next 10 games at home.