SAN JOSE -- The Anaheim Ducks returned to their favorite road arena thinking they could close the Pacific Division gap on the San Jose Sharks, who have been a moment late and a shift short against their toughest rivals all season long.
The Ducks didn't even have a shot this time.
Jeremy Roenick and Joe Thornton scored, and the Sharks tightened their grip on the division lead by holding the defending Stanley Cup champions without a shot in the third period of a 2-1 victory Friday night.
With maddeningly good puck possession and a handful of sterling defensive plays, the Sharks controlled the third period with a certainty that told Thornton his team might be ready to erase its past playoff shortcomings.
"This team has a lot of confidence right now," said Thornton, who got his 21st goal in the game's opening minute. "(Defense) is one thing we take pride in, and it says something about our team."
Until San Jose embarked on its current stretch of 14 wins in 15 games, the Sharks were the dark horse in a three-team race for the Pacific crown. After opening up a seven-point lead on Anaheim with a game in hand, the Sharks are close to clinching a top-two playoff seed and all the accompanying advantages.
"That was an unbelievable job, offensively and defensively," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We had the puck, it must have been 75 percent of the time, and if they did get the puck in our end, we were aggressive. We jumped them, didn't give them any time. It was just a great overall effort."
WILD 2, CANUCKS 1, at Vancouver, British Columbia -- Branko Radivojevic scored 1:33 into the third period, and Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves to help Minnesota defeat Vancouver and extends its point streak to seven games (3-0-4).
ISLANDERS 3, DEVILS 1, at Newark, N.J. -- Kyle Okposo snapped a tie with 2:35 remaining by scoring his first NHL goal, and New York beat New Jersey to end a six-game skid.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, SABRES 1, at Buffalo, N.Y. -- Former Sharks goalkeeper Vesa Toskala stopped 35 shots to help Toronto earn its fifth consecutive road win and keep its threadbare playoff hopes alive with a win over Buffalo.
FLYERS 4, RANGERS 3, SO, at Philadelphia -- Mike Richards and Jeff Carter each scored in the shootout, and Richards had a goal in regulation to lead Philadelphia past New York.
SLAP SHOTS -- The quickly growing NHL Network took another step forward this week when it teamed with XM Satellite Radio to simulcast the daily talk radio program "NHL Live." The hockey-themed program is the first XM Radio show to be shown every day on a television network. ... Buffalo center Tim Connolly will miss the rest of the regular season after the team decided he'll have surgery to remove bone chips in his hip. ... New York Rangers forward Blair Betts had foot surgery Friday and will be out two to three weeks.