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Blackhawks set record for best start to season

REFILE - ADDING NAME OF OPPONENT TEAM Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (R) celebrates his game winning goal with teammate Patrick S
REFILE - ADDING NAME OF OPPONENT TEAM Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (R) celebrates his game winning goal with teammate Patrick S

(Reuters) - The Chicago Blackhawks set a National Hockey League record for the best start to a season when they scored a point in a 17th consecutive game by defeating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Friday.

Rookie Brandon Saad's short-handed third-period goal delivered the game-winner as the Blackhawks (14-0-3) remained undefeated in regulation play this season.

"I just took him (Sharks defenseman Brent Burns) wide and tried to get a shot off and luckily I beat him (goalie Antti Niemi) to the glove side," Saad told reporters.

"It's nice to make history."

The Anaheim Ducks set the previous record of 16 straight games with a point to open the 2006-07 season. Chicago tied that mark in a win on Tuesday. All three Chicago losses have come in shootouts.

"It's kind of crazy to think you're not going to lose a game in regulation for the first 17 games," said Viktor Stalberg, who scored the Blackhawks' first goal.

"It's a cool thing to be a part of."

The Blackhawks have not lost a regular season game in regulation since March 25, 2012, a run of 23 games.

Saad rifled a shot past Niemi on the glove side 2:24 into the third as league-leading Chicago won its fourth game in a row.

The shot was the Blackhawks' first short-handed goal of the season.

Stalberg's goal game in the second period to tie the contest as he banked a shot from behind the goal line off Niemi's left pad and it dribbled into the net.

Netminder Ray Emery made 26 saves in an impressive performance as the Blackhawks stopped all four San Jose power play attempts.

"It's a team effort," said Emery, who has started the last four games for the injured Corey Crawford. "It's been that way since the start of the year. The record came, but more importantly we've been able to focus and refocus after big wins and tight games."

Patrick Marleau had given the Sharks the early lead, collecting his 11th goal of the season in the closing seconds of the first period.

A busy Niemi stopped 32 shots in net for the Sharks.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom and Amlan Chakraborty)

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