Blackhawks' Joel Quenneville on Friday's 3-1 win and goalie J-F Berube's strong effort. (Paul Skrbina/Chicago Tribune)
It’s “Jean-Francois” Berube or “J-F” Berube.
A hyphen — not periods — separates the Blackhawks’ backup goalie’s first names, he said, even if the scoreboard above the ice at the United Center spelled his name “J.F. Berube” during introductions Friday night.
Berube reintroduced himself to Hawks fans Friday night as he stopped a career-high 42 of the 43 shots he faced during a 3-1 victory over the Sharks.
The 26-year-old’s second appearance in a Hawks sweater this season was his first start with the team, and his first NHL start in almost a year.
“It has been a while,” Berube said. “You always want to have a good impression for your first game. I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do.”
Berube couldn’t show anything during the first five minutes Friday, when the Sharks had no shots on goal. But he stopped three shots during a 14-second span soon after.
In fact, the first 40 he faced didn’t make it past him.
But thanks to Timo Meier’s goal 12:08 into the third, Berube did not become the first Hawks goalie with a shutout in his first start with the team since Patrick Lalime did it Feb. 7, 2007.
“They were throwing a lot of pucks at the net — not necessarily the hardest shots,” Berube said. “Those slow pucks are the ones that are hard to save a lot of the time because they are hard to read … and they can change direction a lot.”
Nick Schmaltz celebrated his 22nd birthday — and Berube’s return — when he scored the Hawks’ second goal for a 2-0 lead 2:01 into the third. His 17th score came courtesy of a pass from Anthony Duclair, who had two assists.
It also was the second time in two years Schmaltz has scored on his birthday.
“Good vibes or something,” Schmaltz said.
Berube could relate.
He was recalled from Rockford after Jeff Glass was assigned there a little more than a week ago. He allowed two goals on 14 shots in 44 minutes, 14 seconds of relief for the Hawks on Dec. 6 at the Capitals in his only other game this season.
He made his previous 21 appearances with the Islanders over the last two years.
Berube likely would have arrived to the Hawks sooner than Feb. 15 if his injury had not run concurrent with Corey Crawford’s. Instead, 32-year-old rookie Glass spent 14 games with the Hawks in Crawford’s absence while Berube’s left leg recovered.
“It’s easy to … be down on yourself and kind of feel bad about it,” Berube said of the timing of his injury. “But nothing I could do. Gave a good chance for ‘Glasser’ to come up. I’m really happy for him (that) he got his shot.”
Jan Rutta found his hours after he was activated from injured reserve. The Hawks defenseman scored his sixth goal of the season, tops among defensemen on the team, with 14 minutes, 14 seconds left in the first to put the Hawks ahead 1-0.
Rutta had missed the previous eight games with an injury, and was a healthy scratch in five of seven games before that.
“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Hawks assistant Ulf Samuelson said during the telecast before the third period. “I think the schedule got to him the last little while, and then he had some injuries.”
With seemingly no end in sight to Crawford’s upper-body injury, reportedly concussion-related, Berube looks like he, too, will have an extended second chance.
And he vowed he will do his best to make it count.
Paul Skrbina’s three stars
1. Nick Schmaltz, Blackhawks: Birthday boy had goal, assist.
2. Jean-Francois Berube, Blackhawks: Made 42 saves in his first start of season.
3. Anthony Duclair, Blackhawks: Had a pair of assists.