CHICAGO — Jean-Francois Berube had a good time in his return to the NHL — at the San Jose Sharks expense.
Berube made 42 saves in his first start for Chicago and the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Friday night.
"It was fun," Berube said. "I'm just going out there and enjoying the moment."
The 26-year-old Berube, recalled from Rockford of the AHL last week, appeared in one previous game for Chicago this season in relief of Anton Forsberg on Dec. 6. He hadn't started in the NHL since Feb. 19, 2017, as a member of the New York Islanders.
"It's been a while," Berube said. "I felt comfortable from the moment the puck was dropped. Just have to build on it, keep working on little details and try to improve my game as much as possible."
Nick Schmaltz had a goal and assist on his 22nd birthday. Defenceman Jan Rutta, activated from injured reserve Friday also scored, and Artem Anisimov added an empty-netter with 30.5 seconds left.
Anthony Duclair had two assists for the Blackhawks. They won their second straight and third in four games following an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to last place in the Central Division.
Berube lost a bid for this first NHL shutout when Timo Meier scored his 15th goal on a screened shot with 7:51 left in the third period.
Chicago has sunk since No. 1 goalie Crawford went out with an upper-body injury on Dec. 23. Although the Blackhawks are all but eliminated from the playoffs, Berube's performance provided a lift.
"In this game it's tough to win without your goalie being good," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Berubs did a really good job in the net, looked really patient, square."
Signed by the Blackhawks as a free agent in July, Berube played his 23rd game in the NHL. He appeared in 21 games with the Islanders over the two previous seasons.
Martin Jones stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, coming off a 7-1 loss at Nashville on Thursday night.
The Sharks and Blackhawks, long-time Western Conference rivals, met for the first of three games this season.
"You know, we had the shots, the looks," said San Jose forward Joe Pavelski, who hit the post twice with shots. "I think at times we didn't get enough bodies to the net, which is something we're addressing a little bit here and there."
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said his team got what it deserved, regardless of who was in net for Chicago.
"If you're insinuation is that this is a gimme for us because they've got an inexperienced goalie in net, that's ridiculous," DeBoer said. "Every team you play has a chance to beat anyone on any given night."
San Jose outshot Chicago 15-11 in the scoreless first. Pavelski fired a shot off the right post 6:20 in, and Mikkel Boedker was stopped by Berube from the slot with just over 5 minutes left in the period.
Rutta opened the scoring at 5:46 of the period with his sixth goal. After taking Duclair's feed from the goal line, Rutta shot from the right circle. San Jose's Melker Karlsson blocked that attempt, but Rutta jumped on the loose puck and fired it in.
Jones made a couple of nifty saves — on Duclair and Patrick Kane — later in the second to keep it close.
Schmaltz made it 2-0 at 2:01 of the third with his 17th goal as Chicago pounced on a San Jose turnover.
After Boedker couldn't handle Justin Braun's pass in the San Jose slot, Duclair whipped the puck to Schmaltz who fired in a one-timer from the left circle.
Berube made close-in saves on Logan Couture and Jannik Hansen — and Pavelski hit the post again — before Meier cut it to 2-1 at 12:09 of the third.
Meier connected on a drive from the high slot with Pavelski and Chicago defenceman Jordan Oesterle screening Berube.
NOTES: The Sharks had only one brief power play Friday and have gone eight games and 19 chances without converting a man advantage. ... Rutta hadn't played since Feb. 6. He missed seven games with an undisclosed injury and sat out a game before being hurt. ... Linesman Steve Miller was hit in the mid-section by a puck 4:51 into the third and crumpled to the ice. After being tended to by Blackhawks trainer Mike Gapski, Miller remained in the game.
Sharks: At Minnesota on Sunday night in final of four-game trip.
Blackhawks: At Columbus on Saturday night.