CHICAGO - Marian Hossa has come up with a handful of big goals. Duncan Keith leads a group of solid defencemen, and each of the goalies has played really well.
This is the best start in the proud history of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it could become the NHL's best ever on Friday night.
The Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday to give them 16 straight games with at least one point, matching the league record to start a season.
"It's a remarkable start," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're very happy and pleased. Guys should be proud of the achievement and where they're at, especially in a 48-game season. It's put us in a real good spot."
Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw scored in the tiebreaker for the Blackhawks (13-0-3), who earned their third consecutive win and joined the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks as the only teams to record at least one point in the first 16 games of a season. The Ducks got off to a 12-0-4 start that year and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Chicago will go for the record Friday night when it hosts the San Jose Sharks for the second time in a week. But it could be without Hossa for that one after the star forward had to be helped off the ice during the third period following a forearm to the back of the head from Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen.
"It's great to start, but that's all it is: It's a start," said Ray Emery, who made 29 stops. "You want to see it at the end of the year, that's when it counts."
Alexander Edler and Kevin Bieksa each scored in the final 2:42 of regulation for the Canucks, who opened a four-game trip with their third consecutive loss. Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist, and twin brother Henrik had two assists.
"We had a great comeback against one of the best teams in the league," Henrik Sedin said. "We've got to make sure that we're playing for 60 minutes. It's been three games in a row now that we've been letting off a little bit for 10 or 20 minutes a game and it's cost us so far."
After Jonathan Toews of Chicago and Jordan Schroeder of Vancouver were denied in the shootout, Kane skated in on Cory Schneider and tried to stuff one in close to the goal. It was waved off as the puck trickled into the net, leading to boos from the sellout crowd and an exasperated reaction from Quenneville.
Replays showed Schneider knocked it in with his glove, and the officials put the goal on the board after a short review.
Chris Higgins then converted his chance for the Canucks, and Shaw put the Blackhawks ahead once again with a nice backhander. That put all the pressure on Ryan Kesler, whose shot was gloved by Emery to end the game.
"A big goal by Shawzy and big stops by Razor in the shootout, so it's another big win for us," Toews said.
Hossa had two goals and Patrick Sharp scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, who have won seven of eight overall. Emery, subbing again for Corey Crawford, improved to 6-0 this season.
The Canucks had the lead when the second period started, but Chicago turned up the pressure on Schneider to grab control.
Sharp took a pass from Kane at 6:36 and fired a slap shot between Schneider's legs, tying it at 1. Hossa then converted a slap shot on the power play and tacked on his eighth goal of the season with 2:45 left when he skated across the crease and banked in a backhander off the left skate of an outstretched Schneider.
"They're not the best team in the NHL right now for nothing and they took it to a pretty high level in that second period," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Vancouver responded in the third. Edler sent a slap shot by a screened Emery on the power play, then Bieksa tied it with 1:01 remaining in regulation on another long slap shot.
The Canucks' rally came after Hansen belted Hossa early in the third, adding another subplot to one of the NHL's biggest rivalries.
Hossa eventually got up and went to the bench as Hansen made his way to the penalty box to serve his penalty for roughing.
"We will know more tomorrow," Quenneville said. "It was a major concern, so hopefully he is OK. I think everybody saw it. Everybody can have their own opinion. So we'll let the people who do that stuff do their job."
Hansen hit Hossa as he reached for a high puck.
"It wasn't even a penalty," Vigneault said. "Both referees looked at the play. Until Toews went out to talk to them, it wasn't even a penalty."
NOTES: Schneider had 40 saves. ... Chicago also played without defenceman Brent Seabrook, sidelined by a lower-body injury after he was hurt in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Crawford has been out with an upper-body injury since he made 31 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim last Tuesday. ... Defencemen Cam Barker and Andrew Alberts, plus forward Aaron Volpatti, were scratched for Vancouver.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap