Blackhawks 4, Sharks 1

Jerry Bonkowski, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Niklas Hjalmarsson's first goal of the season at 6:31 of the third period proved to be the icing on the cake as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the visiting San Jose Sharks 4-1 in front of 21,894 Friday night at United Center.
Hjalmarrson also earned an assist in the game, while Jamal Mayers and Duncan Keith had a pair of assists each as Chicago (11-0-3) remained undefeated in regulation play.
The Blackhawks have earned a point in each of their first 14 games, a franchise record, and are now tied with the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens for the third best season-opening point streak in NHL history. The Anaheim Ducks hold the overall league record of 16 (2006-07), while Edmonton had 15 points to start the 1984-85 season, a mark that Chicago can tie Sunday vs. visiting the Los Angeles Kings.
San Jose (7-4-3), which opened the season with seven straight wins, is now winless in its last seven games, including three shootout defeats.
Chicago looked significantly stronger Friday, perhaps still smarting from Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim. The Blackhawks were almost constantly on the attack, particularly in the second period. After outshooting San Jose 9-8 in the opening period, Chicago outshot the visiting Sharks by a massive 17-8 margin (at one point, the Hawks had outshot their visitors 15-3) in the middle period.
For the game, Chicago outshot San Jose 37-28.
In that pivotal second period, the Blackhawks moved out to a 3-1 lead at 14:40 on Andrew Shaw's third goal of the season (assists to Keith and Brent Seabrook), coming on the power play.
Ex-Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi did not have a good night in goal for San Jose. After giving up a last-minute goal in the first period, Niemi made a huge mistake early in the second period. After Mayers' shot bounced off the side post, Niemi went out to his left, apparently thinking the puck went in that direction.
As it turned out, the puck actually went to Niemi's right and an alert Marcus Kruger quickly flicked the loose puck into an essentially open net at 5:03, giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 edge (Mayers and Hjalmarsson were credited with assists).
San Jose managed to get that goal back less than two minutes later when Tim Kennedy scored his first goal of the season (assisted by Logan Couture and Brad Stuart) beating Chicago goalie Ray Emery to close the gap to 2-1.
The game was scoreless until the 19:16 mark of the first period when Dave Boland came in on Niemi and lifted a wrist shot from about 15 feet out. It was Boland's fifth goal of the season, assisted by Patrick Kane and Keith.
NOTES: Emery made his fourth start in goal for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford is nursing an upper body injury. Crawford missed Friday morning's skate, prompting the Blackhawks to call up Henrik Karlsson from the team's AHL affiliate, the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs. Karlsson was acquired Jan. 21 from Calgary for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick. "(Crawford) is out for today, day to day, upper body," Chicago coach Joel Quennevile said. "(He) didn't feel great (after Thursday's) practice. That's where he's at." ... Two members of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team are now with the Sharks: Adam Burish and Niemi. ... San Jose still has a commanding 42-27-5-7 record in the all-time series with Chicago.

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