Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Blackhawks set record for best start to NHL season

AP and Reuters, Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after beating the San Jose Sharks in their NHL game on Friday in Chicago.

Photo: Reuters

The Chicago Blackhawks set a National Hockey League record for the best start to a season when they scored a point in a 17th consecutive game by defeating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Friday.

Rookie Brandon Saad’s short-handed third-period goal delivered the game-winner as the Blackhawks (14-0-3) remained undefeated in regulation play this season.

“It’s nice to make history,” Saad told reporters.

The Anaheim Ducks set the previous record of 16 straight games with a point to open the 2006 and 2007 season. Chicago tied that mark in a win on Tuesday. All three Chicago losses have come in shootouts.

“It’s kind of crazy to think you’re not going to lose a game in regulation for the first 17 games,” said Viktor Stalberg, who scored the Blackhawks’ first goal.

The Blackhawks have not lost a regular season game in regulation since March 25 last year, a run of 23 games.

Saad rifled a shot past goalie Antti Niemi on the glove side two minutes and 24 seconds into the third as league-leading Chicago won their fourth game in a row.It was the Blackhawks’ first short-handed goal of the season.

Stalberg’s goal in the second period tied the contest as he banked a shot from behind the goal line off Niemi’s left pad and it dribbled into the net.

Netminder Ray Emery made 26 saves in an impressive performance as the Blackhawks stopped all four San Jose power-play attempts.

Patrick Marleau had given the Sharks the early lead, collecting his 11th goal of the season in the closing seconds of the first period.

A busy Niemi stopped 32 shots in net for the Sharks.

In Friday’s other games, Vancouver broke a scoreless tie in the third period to beat Nashville, while Pittsburgh downed Florida.

Vancouver’s Dale Weise scored the sole goal nine minutes and 14 seconds into the third period and the Canucks held on for a 1-0 win at the Nashville Predators.

Goalie Roberto Luongo made 23 saves for the shutout.

Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen and Dustin Jeffrey scored third-period goals to secure a 3-1 home win over the Florida Panthers.

Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, who lost star center Evgeni Malkin in the third period after he took an off-balance check and slid back-first into the end boards. Malkin remained down on the ice for several moments, but skated off the ice on his own.

Florida defenseman Mike Weaver scored the Panthers’ goal.

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