The Chicago Blackhawks are off to the best 20-game start in NHL history -- they are the only team in League history to get points in each of their first 20 games. But in terms of where they rank among the best-ever 20-game segments, regardless of when they occur in a season, they're a step behind the best.
No team has won 20 in a row -- the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins hold the record with 17 consecutive wins, two of which came in overtime. The Blackhawks improved to 17-0-3 by beating St. Louis 3-0 on Thursday, giving them 37 points, one short of the most ever in a 20-game segment at any point in an NHL season. The Montreal Canadiens went 19-1-0 (38 points) in a 20-game segment of the 1967-68 season, still the best of any team in that number of games. Four other teams went 18-1-1 for 37 points; only the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings did so after the re-introduction of overtime. Seven more had 36 points; two were 16-0-4 and five teams went 17-1-2.
If the Hawks were playing under the rules that were in place before the shootout was adopted in 2005, their point total would shrink enough to drop them out of the best 20-game segments in League history. Chicago has just 12 regulation wins; three more came in overtime (not adopted until 1983-84); and two others (as well as three losses) were in shootouts.
If the Blackhawks were playing under the pre-1983 rules, in which games deadlocked after 60 minutes were counted as ties, they'd be 12-0-8 (32 points); move them into the overtime/pre-shootout era and that improves to 15-0-5 (35 points).