During the first period of the Blackhawks' 6-3 victory Monday night over the Sharks at the United Center, the Jumbotron played a video tribute to last year's Western Conference finals clincher over San Jose.

Antti Niemi, who glanced at the highlights from his spot in the Sharks' net, played a major role in that big Hawks win.

And you definitely could say the same thing after this one.

In a welcome sign for a team coming off a frustrating road trip, the Hawks chased one of the NHL's hottest goaltenders in Niemi with a three-goal outburst in 4 minutes, 11 seconds.

Just like that, with 12:35 left in the second period, the Finn was finished. The Hawks' fun had just begun.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who before the game called Niemi the biggest reason for his team's improvement, singled out his goalie again for a different reason. Fed up, McLellan yanked Niemi for Antero Niittymaki to the delight of the crowd with the Hawks leading 4-2.

"I wasn't too surprised giving up three goals in four minutes," a dejected Niemi said afterward. "It was nothing specific. It won't affect my confidence. I haven't had many nights like this."

The Hawks have had too few themselves. But the well-timed flurry came in a five-goal period that represented the Hawks' most explosive of the season. Marian Hossa beat Niemi twice on power plays but the Sharks goalie looked most overwhelmed on Jonathan Toews' two-on-one goal — Niemi's fourth surrendered in just 18 shots.