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Niklas Hjalmarsson hammers home the first goal for the Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks (L) hugs Corey Crawford #50 after Crawford shut out the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on December 17, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeaed the Oilers 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Despite a number of scoring opportunities for both the Blackhawks and the Sabres through the first period of play Friday night, the game was scoreless late in the first period. That is, until Niklas Hjalmarsson stepped up.

Late in the first period off a dazzling pass from Erik Gustafsson, Hjalmarsson went top shelf to break the 0-0 tie.

The goal gave the Blackhawks a one goal lead heading into the first intermission. Just as important in that was the outstanding play from Corey Crawford, who stopped 11 Buffalo shots in the first frame.

For Hjalmarsson, it was his second goal of the year. His first since late November against the Kings.