It seemingly has been a different guy standing out every night for the now record-setting Blackhawks.
On Friday night, it was rookie left winger Brandon Saad stealing the spotlight.
Saad scored short-handed at 2:24 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and give the Hawks a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.
The Hawks set an NHL record for best start to a season with their 17th game without a loss in regulation, besting Anaheim’s 12-0-4 mark from the 2006-07 season. Now more than a month into the season, the 14-0-3 Hawks have gained at least 1 point in all 17 games they have played.
“I think it means more to all you guys than it does to us, but it’s a great accomplishment,” said winger Viktor Stalberg, whose goal late in the second period wiped out a 1-0 deficit. “We’re excited about being in the history books for now at least and we want to keep going here.”
Goalie Ray Emery made 26 saves to run his personal record to 7-0, but it’s the team record that matters most to him.
“It’s a notch in your belt, especially to do something as a group,” Emery said. “The start of the year is the worst time to do it, I think. You’d rather do it at the end, but it’s great to be off to a good start. We couldn’t ask for more, but at the same time we can’t be complacent.”
Saad raced around defenseman Brent Burns and snapped a shot off the right post and in past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi from the left side.
“I just took him wide and tried to get the shot off and luckily I beat him far side,” Saad said. “It’s awesome. It’s nice to get another win and make history. Our group has had a great year so far and we expect nothing less.”
The goal was the third of the year for the rookie Saad.
“We call him man child,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “He’s about 20 years old in a 40-year-old man’s body, hairy, heavy, big and strong. He’s a grown man already.”
The Hawks played a sluggish first period and trailed 1-0 on a late goal by San Jose’s Patrick Marleau.
Marleau got his 11th goal with 14.2 seconds left in the period on a Joe Thornton rebound that Emery couldn’t control.
Emery got lucky earlier in the period when Ryan Clowe missed an empty net from in the slot.
Stalberg tied it at 16:40 of the second period with his fourth goal of the season. Stalberg banked one in off Niemi from a severe angle left.
The tying goal came moments after the Hawks killed a hooking penalty to Dave Bolland, who later left the game with an upper body injury.
The Hawks killed all four San Jose power plays and gained momentum from each one.
“I think that’s where the game turned around,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “It was a little sleepy from our side in the beginning and then we killed off a couple penalties.
“We gained momentum there and the crowd started getting into the game and we scored a couple goals to put the game away.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is ready to move forward and keep the streak going.
“Guys should be proud of the achievement and accomplishment, but I just think we shouldn’t be happy with where we’re at,” Quenneville said. “We want to keep trying to get better.”
Ÿ Follow Tim’s hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.