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Article updated: 2/23/2013 12:21 AM

Blackhawks want to make history in June

By Barry Rozner

According to the record book, the Blackhawks made history Friday night.

According to the Blackhawks, history is only made after you win 16 games in the playoffs.

So forgive the players if they don't share your enthusiasm for setting an NHL record with at least a point in each of the first 17 games of the season.

But be appreciative of their belief that the streak is not more important than furthering their goal of going deep in the postseason.

"It's not a big deal. It's 2 points," said Niklas Hjalmarsson after the Hawks beat the Sharks 2-1 at the UC Friday night. "We're not in the playoffs yet."

It speaks to the Hawks' playoff failure of the last two springs that their focus is so sharp, their attitude so well defined.

"I don't want to downplay it," said Duncan Keith with a smile, before pounding it into the ground. "It just means we're playing good hockey consistently and that's a good thing."

So what does the streak prove? What does it mean? What does it amount to?

There have been longer undefeated streaks, longer points streaks and longer winning streaks. This streak just happens to be at the start of the season.

It's also irrelevant that several teams starting like this have won the Cup -- the last being Anaheim in 2006-07. But while it's historically insignificant, it's extremely important from a confidence standpoint.

Considering the heavy road schedule the Hawks had to play out of the gate, this is huge for them, even if you consider the streak arbitrary.

What it doesn't guarantee is a parade or ring ceremony, even though expectations are now out of control.

"We want to have high expectations every year," Keith said. "The goal every year is to get in the playoffs and then anything can happen. We've seen that. We've learned a lot the last couple years."

It is nothing but good news that the Hawks are approaching this with caution. A great start does not promise a good finish. A No. 1 seed doesn't even guarantee a first-round playoff victory.

"It's fun to make history," Hjalmarsson said. "But it's really not for us. We don't really care about the record. It's one game and now we move on to the next game."

This one game was like so many others this season. The Hawks played a sluggish first period but outworked San Jose the final 40 minutes, getting a gift of a goal from former teammate Antti Niemi, who let Viktor Stalberg score from beneath the goal line and bank a shot in off Niemi's pads, tying the game at 1-1 late in the second period.

"I think he'd like to have that first one back," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "But to use a baseball analogy, he's throwing 1-hitters every night and we're not scoring any runs for him."

When Niemi sees the film, he'll want the second one back, too. Near the end of a Sharks power play early in the third, Brandon Saad broke down the left side and fired a seemingly innocent shot that beat Niemi far side when he lost his post coming out to cut down the angle.

Niemi badly overplayed it, giving Saad half the net to hit.

"I'm not a goalie so I don't know what he did," Saad said laughing. "I just tried to go left and shoot back to the right, and I hit a good spot."

It was the perfect spot, keeping the Hawks stretch of consecutive games with a point equally perfect.

"I just think that we shouldn't be happy with where we're at," said coach Joel Quenneville. "We just want to keep trying to get better."

That message is clear within the dressing room.

"It's tough to get points in this league and we're happy to be getting points. I think that's all it is," Hjalmarsson said. "I'm impressed with our guys. No one is satisfied."

That is just as impressive as putting a record in a book.

brozner@dailyherald.com

ŸHear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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