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Blackhawks break record with 17th point to start the season

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Updated: February 23, 2013 12:17AM

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks made history on Friday night, beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 at the United Center.

Brandon Saad’s shorthanded goal early in the third period — the Hawks’ first shorty of the season — proved to be the game-winner as the Hawks overcame a sluggish start and a 1-0 deficit.

It was the Hawks’ 17th consecutive game with at least one point, breaking the record they shared with the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks. More than a third of the way through the shortened post-lockout season, the Hawks have yet to lose in regulation, posting a staggering 14-0-3 record.

And with the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets up net on Sunday, followed by the Edmonton Oilers (who will be missing suspended leading scorer Taylor Hall), they could be just getting started.

Marian Hossa, back on the ice after being knocked out of the game Tuesday night against the Vancover Canucks with a hit to the back of the head, downplayed the record before the game, but said it would be nice to break it in front of the home crowd.

“Definitely,” he said. “They’ve been great, and not just this year.

It’s been sold out since I joined the hockey team. It’s been unbelievable.”

The record looked a little dicey in the early going, as the Sharks led 1-0 after a sloppy, choppy first period. San Jose’s Patrick Marleau poked a Joe Thornton rebound past Hawks goaltender Ray Emery with just 15 seconds left in the first period, leaving the sellout crowd uneasy.

Even with Marian Hossa and Daniel Carcillo on the ice — arguably the first time all season the Hawks were truly at full strength, a scary thought for the rest of the league given the streak — the Hawks looked anything but crisp.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville tried to shake things up early in the second, moving Carcillo to the top line and Saad to the second line, briefly fiddling with the lines before settling back to the usual lineup. But it wasn’t until the Hawks killed off a Dave Bolland hooking penalty that they finally evened things up. Viktor Stalberg made it 1-1 at the 16:40 mark when he fired a puck at Sharks goalie Antti Niemi from his right side, from behind the goal line and squeezing the puck between Niemi and the inside post.

The Hawks killed another penalty at the end of the second, then were hit with another penalty just 27 seconds into the third. But Saad gave the Hawks the lead with three seconds left in the Brent Seabrook tripping minor, firing a shot past Niemi from the left circle — hesitating, then ripping the puck past Niemi on the far side. It was the Hawks’ first shorthanded goal of the season.

Ray Emery, making his fourth straight start — and second against San Jose in a week — was shaky early on, twice getting caught badly out of position, only to escape unharmed. Ryane Clowe had a wide-open net when the puck somehow got through Emery’s legs as he faced the back boards, but Patrick Sharp got his stick on Clowe just enough to force the shot wide. After the rough first, Emery was sharp the rest of the way, finishing with 26 saves and improving to 7-0-0 on the season.

Bolland, the Hawks’ second-line center, did not play in the third period. There was no immediate word on his status.

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