Antti Niemi turned aside all 34 shots he faced to make defenseman Jason Demers' first goal of the season stand up as the San Jose Sharks skated to a 1-0 home triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
San Jose, which has won four in a row and 12 of its last 15 games (12-2-1), moved past the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars into sole possession of first place in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division.
Niemi denied his former team on several choice opportunities - including breakaways by Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell as well as captain Jonathan Toews on a point-blank power-play chance.
With Dave Bolland in the penalty box for hooking, the Sharks needed only four seconds of power-play time to snap a scoreless tie late in the second period.
Ryane Clowe won the faceoff in the offensive zone and the puck slid to Demers, who wired a shot past Corey Crawford to send HP Pavilion into a frenzy.
Niemi preserved the slim lead by recording his first shutout of the season and 14th career.
Crawford finished with 20 saves for Central Division-leading Chicago, which has been outscored 15-4 during its three-game losing skid.