COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Not since the days of Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito, more than 40 years ago, have the Chicago Blackhawks started a season like this.
The Blackhawks survived a pesky effort by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night to claim a 3-2 victory before an announced crowd of 18,381 in Nationwide Arena, improving to 5-0 for the first time since 1971-72.
Dave Bolland, Brian Bickell and Jonathan Toews scored for the Blackhawks, while goaltender Corey Crawford had 24 saves. Chicago nearly let a late 3-1 lead slip away, however.
The Blue Jackets pulled goaltender Steve Mason for an extra skater with 2:30 remaining and pulled to 3-2 with 2:19 to play when Artem Anisimov buried a Brandon Dubinsky rebound in front of Crawford.
The Jackets pulled Mason again with 1:10 remaining, but couldn't score the equalizer. The Blackhawks cleared the puck from the zone three times in the final minute, as the crowd roared.
Mark Letestu also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight after winning their season-opener.
The Blackhawks came back from an early 1-0 deficit when Bolland finished a 2-on-1 rush with Patrick Kane at 17:54 of the first period.
Chicago's lead grew to 2-1 at 8:50 when Bickell redirected a slapshot by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson at 8:50.
The Blue Jackets felt like they'd tied the score at 2-2 midway through the second period. But NHL official Dan O'Rourke ruled that Jackets winger Nick Foligno had interfered with Crawford just before a slap shot by Derick Brassard beat the Blackhawks goaltender.
Replays showed Foligno barely grazing Crawford, but the call was not reviewable by the NHL review booth in Toronto.
Chicago went ahead 3-1 early in the third when Toews was left alone with Mason as the Blue Jackets left the zone and turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Kane fed Toews, who had plenty of time to deke his away around Mason, scoring past his pad.
NOTES: This would have been NHL All-Star weekend in Columbus if this year's game hadn't been canceled by the 119-day NHL lockout. Now, it's unclear when the game will be hosted in Nationwide Arena, Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell told The Columbus Dispatch. "My guess is we will have it within three to four years at the latest." ... Chicago's Viktor Stalberg had eight goals -- four of them game-winners -- in six games against Columbus last season. ... Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. "This could be a week to a two-week thing," coach Todd Richards said.