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Blackhawks beat Sharks, set NHL record for best start

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- In what has already started out to be a historic season, the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks added the most significant chapter thus far to their 2013 season with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

With the win, Chicago (14-0-3) set an NHL record for the longest season-opening point streak, as well as still not having a loss in regulation time. That eclipsed the old mark of 16 points by the Anaheim Ducks to start the 2006-07 season.

Goals by Victor Stalberg and Brandon Saad, as well as another outstanding game by backup goaltender Ray Emery, propelled the Blackhawks to the win in front of an announced crowd of 21,760, Chicago's 197th consecutive sellout (including regular season and playoff games) at the United Center.

Emery remains undefeated this season, lifting his record to a career-best winning streak of 7-0-0.

After staking San Jose to a 1-0 lead in the first period, Stalberg beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at 16:40 of the second period, flicking a shot that just snuck past Niemi's outstretched glove.

Chicago finally took the lead for the first time in the game early in the third period when Saad poked a wrist shot past Niemi, a former Blackhawks goalie, putting the Hawks ahead 2-1. Chicago outshot San Jose 34-27.

Even with the loss, San Jose still dominates the all-time series between the two teams with a mark of 42-28-5-7, including a 19-8-0-4 mark in the last 31 meetings between the two teams.

Having lost twice to the Blackhawks already in this lockout-shortened season, the Sharks came out much more offensive in the first period of Friday's game.

After a bit of a lull midway through the opening period, San Jose went back to its aggressive ways, scoring the game's first goal with 15 seconds left before the first intermission. Patrick Marleau's slapsot found its way past Emery to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

NOTES: Friday marked the first of three home games in four days for the Hawks, who face Columbus on Sunday and Edmonton on Monday, completing a season-high seven-game homestand. ... Chicago got three key players back from injury on Friday. Marian Hossa, who took a vicious forearm to the head against Vancouver on Tuesday, was cleared to play, as was Brent Seabrook, who missed the Canucks game with an upper body injury. Also back from an upper body injury that has sidelined him four games was No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. He will likely start Sunday against Columbus. ... The Blackhawks won the first two meetings against the Sharks in decided fashion, 5-3 on Feb. 5 and 4-1 on Feb. 15. ... Friday's game marked the last meeting between the Sharks and Blackhawks this season, barring a matchup in the playoffs. ... Todd McLellan needs three more wins to tie the Sharks' all-time career wins for a head coach (206 wins by Ron Wilson).
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