CHICAGO - How long can the Chicago Blackhawks' history-making unbeaten streak continue?
Perhaps a better question: Now 21 games into a 48-game, lockout-shortened season, will they ever lose in regulation play this season?
The NHL's best and only remaining undefeated team in regulation rallied to defeat the league's worst team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3 in overtime Friday at the United Center.
Admittedly, it wasn't easy, however, as Chicago had to battle back three times from either a deficit or a tie, before Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner with 1:37 remaining in the extra period.
It was a textbook way to score a game-winning goal, as Blackhawks center and captain Jonathan Toews sent the puck through the Columbus goal crease, leaving Seabrook to just tap in the deciding score.
Chicago improved to an 18-0-3 record and 39 points, both league bests to date.
Columbus gave it a good try, but fell yet again, dropping to 5-13-3 (1-6-1 in its last eight games).
The Blackhawks have earned a point in 21 straight games, which extends both the league's and team's all-time record for team point streaks to begin a season.
The 21-game point streak also marks a franchise record for overall point streak.
Including the end of last season, the Hawks can tie the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for the second-longest points streak (28) in NHL history Sunday at Detroit. The league record is 35, set by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers.
After each team managed one goal and seven shots on goal in the first period, Columbus regained its early lead at 12:42 of the second period on center Artem Anisimov's fifth goal of the season, making it 2-1 in the Blue Jackets' favor.
But once again, Chicago came back to tie the game at 17:20 of the middle period as Patrick Sharp scored his fifth goal of the season on a wicked low-angle slap shot to tie the game at 2-all.
But the Hawks weren't done, as Bryan Bickell scored his third goal of the season at 18:19 (unassisted).
In the third period, the scrappy Blue Jackets proved they weren't going to give up easily, tying the game at 3-3 on Ryan Johansen's first goal of the season at 12:23.
Chicago's Brandon Saad tried to score the game-winner midway through the overtime period, but the goal was disallowed because he grabbed a puck in the air and then threw it into the Blue Jackets' net.
Columbus didn't wait long to get on the scoreboard in the first period. Vinny Prospal netted both his seventh goal of the season as well as the 250th tally of his NHL career, giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead 31 seconds into the game.
The Blue Jackets kept Chicago off-balance for much of the opening period with a combination of strong defense and an aggressive offensive game.
But the Blackhawks broke through at 16:09 of the opening period when Viktor Stalberg tipped in a rebound from Saad, beating outstretched Columbus goalie Steve Mason. It was Stalberg's sixth goal of the season, tying the score at 1-1.
Ray Emery, who replaced Corey Crawford in the second period of Thursday's win at St. Louis -- when Crawford aggravated a prior upper body injury that sidelined him for four earlier games -- was back in the starting lineup Friday. Emery entered with an 8-0-0 record this season, which is also the longest personal career winning streak for him.
NOTES: Chicago right winger Marian Hossa played in the 999th game of his lengthy NHL career on Friday. He'll hit 1,000 games Sunday, when the Hawks travel to Detroit to play the Red Wings before returning to the United Center Tuesday and Wednesday for games vs. Minnesota and Colorado. ... The Blue Jackets' return home to play Colorado on Sunday, the start of nine home games in a 10-game stretch. ... Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Columbus goalie Steve Mason's last shutout. ... Chicago came into Friday's game with a 35-28-8 all-time record over the Blue Jackets. ... Friday's announced attendance was 21,828, the Hawks' 200th straight sellout. ... The Blackhawks announced Friday that they will honor broadcaster Pat Foley for his 30th season as the team's play-by-play voice at the April 19 home game vs. Nashville.