San Jose unbeaten in past five games

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Christian Ehrhoff already has a spot

picked out for the puck he used to score his first NHL goal.

"I'm going to put it in a special place at home," Ehrhoff said

after he helped San Jose beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Wednesday

night and extend the Sharks' season-best winning streak to three

games. "It was awesome, a great experience. I've had chances

before and failed. Now I'm pretty happy."

Ehrhoff was presented with the puck by fellow German player

Marco Sturm, making the moment even more special.

Niko Dimitrakos and Nils Ekman also scored for the Sharks, who

stretched their unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) and reached

the .500 mark (6-6-8-2) for the first time since Dec. 30.

"We've been plodding along for quite some time," San Jose

coach Ron Wilson said. "Some nights you play well and don't get

rewarded with a win. Now we're playing well and points are showing

up for us."

It was also San Jose's second straight win at home after going

winless (0-3-5-1) in its first nine games there.

"We needed the first one to help us get going," Ehrhoff said.

"Hopefully we can take this momentum and keep it going."

Nathan Dempsey and Scott Nichol scored for the Blackhawks,

winless in nine games (0-5-1-3). Chicago hadn't had a streak that

long since an 0-7-0-2 stretch Feb. 17-March 7 last season.

"We're having some problems letting down at the wrong time,"

Nichol said. "We're right on the cusp of turning it around. When

we do, we'll string more than two or three together."

San Jose took a 1-0 lead with 18:40 remaining in the second

period. Vincent Damphousse skated down the middle with the puck and

passed to Ehrhoff in the right circle. When goalie Michael Leighton

came out to challenge him, Ehrhoff centered a pass to a wide-open

Dimitrakos at the top of crease and Dimitrakos one-timed a shot into an open net.

"The goalie went with me, and all I had to do was wait for Niko

to come into position before I passed," Ehrhoff said.

Chicago responded 44 seconds later when Dempsey picked up his

own rebound and beat Vesa Toskala to the right side.

"I feel more comfortable now because I've been playing a lot,"

Toskala said.

Toskala made 23 saves in his fifth straight start in place of

Evgeni Nabokov, out with a groin injury.

"It's different than when you're playing every second week,"

Toskala said.

Ekman gave the Sharks the lead with 4:17 remaining in the second

period when he squeezed the puck past Leighton after taking a pass

from behind the net from Alyn McCauley. Sturm dug the puck out of

the corner to set up the play, recording a point in his career-best

seventh straight contest.

"It seemed like it was wave after wave of shooters," Leighton

said. "We just weren't catching them. We dominated the third

period, but it was too late to play catchup."

Ehrhoff scored with 1:42 left in the second period. He took a

pass from Patrick Marleau, held onto the puck until the defense

committed, then slid it past Leighton. Marleau, playing in his 500th

game, recorded a point in his career-high ninth straight game.

Nichol scored with 2:49 remaining, redirecting a shot by Tuomo Ruutu.

Game notes

The MLS champion San Jose Earthquakes were honored during

the first intermission. ... Chicago D Bryan Berard was back in the

lineup after missing a game with a groin injury. ... Sharks C

Wayne Primeau also was back in the lineup -- after missing two games

and four of the previous five with a hip injury. ... Chicago is the

only Original Six franchise San Jose has a winning record

against (22-19-4-3). ... Damphousse has 69 points in 68 career

games against the Blackhawks.