Marian Hossa scored two goals, and Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell also tallied to lead Chicago past Anaheim 4-2 to end the Ducks' eight-game winning streak and hand them only their second loss in the past 20 games.
Despite scuffling along at 1-1-3 in its past five games, defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago entered the game with the NHL's second-best point total.
And through most of the showdown against league-leading Anaheim, the Blackhawks were a step quicker and more determined physically.
''We knew we'd be facing the hottest team in the league,'' Hossa said. ''We knew we had to stop them somehow.
''We got scored on the last few minutes, but we still got the two points, which is important.''
Then Kyle Palmieri connected on a 40-foot shot 53 seconds later to make it close before Hossa scored into an empty net with 7.6 seconds left.
Crawford made 19 saves to help the Blackhawks end a five-game losing streak against Anaheim - including three straight in Chicago - and beat the Ducks for the first time since December 2011.
And Chicago made its statement.
''Everybody comes into this building and playing us as the defending Stanley Cup champion, everybody's got their game high,'' Hossa said. ''Now we're playing the team in first, and everybody in the dressing room can feel the intensity.
''Everybody prepared really well. We always have trouble playing this team. That's why the win is big.''
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw for most of the game.
''We had a good purpose, it seemed, every shift,'' Quenneville said. ''All of a sudden it's 3-2 and anything can happen at the end.
''But we got out of this one, but for the most part, the other 54 minutes, we played the right way.''
Anaheim's run of 18 wins in 19 games began with a 3-2 shootout victory at Chicago on Dec. 6. It was the longest span of one-loss play since the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens won a record 20 of 21.
''I think we were ready, but we were really tentative,'' Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''We were sitting around and watching them as though we were watching the Stanley Cup champions rather than playing.
''Maybe with all the pressure we've gotten in the last two days, some guys maybe weren't ready for this,'' he added. ''It's a learning experience. To be on top there's a commitment you have to make or you don't stay they very long.''
Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller was sharp and made 31 saves, but his 14-game winning streak ended. That run tied him for second-longest in NHL history with four other goalies.
Hiller hadn't lost since a shootout defeat to Los Angeles on Dec. 3.
''I think it was definitely not our best game,'' Hiller said. ''If you play a team like the Blackhawks, you can't just try to work for half a period or one period and hope you win.''
Chicago outshot the Ducks 35-21.
Versteeg collided with Bickell behind the Anaheim net at the end of the second period and didn't skate in the third. He's out day to day with an upper-body injury.
Chicago outshot Anaheim 15-8 in the first period and led 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The Blackhawks dominated early, and Hossa opened the scoring with a short-handed goal at 10:34.
Toews skated quickly out of the Chicago zone and sent the puck to Hossa on right wing. As Toews streaked down the slot, Hossa faked, used Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler as a screen and fired a low shot under Hiller's pads.
It was the first time the Blackhawks had opened the scoring since Jan. 3, a span of six games.
Versteeg made it 2-0 with 2:54 left in the period when he batted in a loose puck that two Ducks players couldn't handle.
Anaheim's Matt Beleskey knocked the puck away from Versteeg as he tried to cut in from the right corner, but it deflected off defenseman Sami Vatanen and toward the net. Versteeg got a piece of the flipping puck and directed it past Hiller.
Aided by three power plays, Blackhawks outshot the Ducks 11-3 in the middle period.
Bickell made it 3-0 at 10:13 of the third. He gained a step on Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy, plowed down the slot and fired.
Hiller got a piece of the shot, but it rolled over him and into the net.
After Getzlaf cut it to 3-1 with 6:13 left, Palmieri fooled Crawford on a low 40-foot shot from the slot 53 seconds later to set up a wild finish. The Ducks pressured and pulled Hiller for an extra attacker with 1:10 left, but couldn't tie it.
NOTES: The Ducks announced D Sheldon Souray will miss the season after another operation on his right wrist. Souray, 37, was injured during summer training and he never got on the ice in his second year in Anaheim. ... Ducks D Bryan Allen returned after missing five games with a lower-body injury. ... Chicago leading scorer Patrick Kane has no goals and just three assists in nine games following a career-high 14-game point streak during which he had eight goals and 17 assists. ... Anaheim sent top goalie prospect John Gibson back to the minors without making his NHL debut and assigned long-injured D Luca Sbisa to the AHL on a conditioning loan before Friday's game.