CHICAGO -- In what has already started out to be a historic 2013 season, the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks added the most significant chapter thus far 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.
"The guys should be proud of the achievement and the accomplishment," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, before adding a disclaimer of sorts to not let the new record go to his players' heads.
"I just think that we shouldn't be happy with where we're at. We just want to keep trying to get better. I like the demeanor and the approach and just looking forward to the next game, trying to make a contribution to your linemates or your defense partner or your fellow goalie. It's been a nice environment for the guys and they keep pushing one another."
Quenneville's assessment appears to be front and center with his players. Even with the record, there's still a long way to go for the Blackhawks to achieve their biggest goal of all by winning the Stanley Cup championship in the shortened season.
"We're just taking it one game at a time; I know it's a boring cliche, but that's just how it is," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "It's fun to break a record and be in the history books, but the biggest thing is two points and as long as we can get points in the games here, we're going to set ourselves up for the playoffs."
Added Viktor Stalberg, who scored one of Chicago's goals: "It's a great accomplishment and we're excited about being in the history books for now, at least, and we want to keep going."
Conversely, Friday marked the Sharks' eighth loss in the last nine games, dropping them to 8-5-3 after starting the season 7-0-0.
"We're (ticked) off," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "We're not very happy with it. And we should be after a loss. It doesn't matter when or who or where, the effort was much better, the battle was better, we still only scored one goal. We gave up the winner on the power play, so we should all be a little unhappy."
Goals by 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.
"It's great to have a team record, and I think that's what I'm going to take out of (the game)," Emery said modestly.
With Corey Crawford having been sidelined the last four games with an upper body injury, combined with Emery's hot hand of late, the Hawks have two of the best goalies in the league.
"I just take it one game at a time, and whenever I get a chance to be in there, I want to be in there and contribute," Emery said.
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 took the lead for good early in the third period -- on a shorthanded opportunity, no less -- when Saad poked a wrist shot past Niemi, a former Blackhawks goalie, putting the Hawks ahead 2-1.
"That was a killer, for a shorthanded goal like that to be the game-winner, that's tough," said Sharks center Joe Thornton, whose team was outshot, 34-27.
"We lost, it's not what we came here to do," McLellan said. "We'll look for positives in it, but it's still a loss at the end of the night. It's two points that we won't get back. The fact that we were a little more competitive and a little faster, and in the game a lot more than the last time in here is a great thing, but it's still a loss."
Having already lost twice to the Blackhawks in this lockout-shortened season, the Sharks came out much more offensive in the first period of Friday's game.
"(San Jose) came out hard," Emery said. "They're a team that's had a tough stretch lately, and we expected nothing less than them coming out hard and I thought we did a good job coming out, as well.
"It was back and forth, two teams that came out pretty strong, so I don't think you can say that we came out flat, as much as they were going."
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.
"We don't want to give anything up, but at the same time, you can't panic if you get down," Emery said. "You're disappointed when you get scored on, but we definitely don't lose focus or get disheartened."
NOTES: Friday marked the first of three home games in four days for the Blackhawks, who face Columbus on Sunday and Edmonton on Monday, completing a season-high seven-game homestand. Things don't get much easier for the Sharks, who play Saturday at Dallas, return home for a three-game homestand, and then return to the road for nine games in an 11-game stretch. ... Chicago got three key players back from injury: Marian Hossa, who took a vicious forearm to the head against Vancouver on Tuesday, was cleared to play; Brent Seabrook, who missed the Canucks game with an upper body injury; and No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who missed four games with an upper body injury. Crawford will likely start Sunday against Columbus. ... The Blackhawks swept the season seris, winning the first two meetings against the Sharks in decided fashion, 5-3 on Feb. 5 and 4-1 on Feb. 15. ... McLellan needs three more wins to tie the Sharks' all-time career wins for a head coach (206 wins by Ron Wilson).