PHILADELPHIA -- There's the Philadelphia Flyers, who had just 16 points in their last 14 games going into the weekend. And then there's the San Jose Sharks, who picked up their 27th point in their last 14 games, as the hottest club in the NHL, with a five-point lead on Anaheim in the Pacific Division. San Jose is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games.
"We had that five-game losing streak, and when you're in a playoff race and you get scared of actually missing the playoffs, it gets your attention," said Jeremy Roenick, referring to San Jose's East Coast swing last month that included a loss to the Flyers. "Everything started going right at that time, and it just built on itself," he said. "It's an energy, and everybody thrives off it. We feel really confident right now."
The Sharks have always been one of those teams people expect great things from every fall but fail to deliver every spring. They lost in the Western Conference semifinal last year to Detroit. The year before, they lost to Edmonton in the conference semifinal. In 2004, they lost in the conference final to Calgary. In 2002, they lost to Colorado in the conference semifinal.
"Our confidence level is as high as it possibly could be right now," said Joe Thornton, during a conference call last week. "Everybody is just playing real good hockey. We don't have necessarily one thing that's going incredibly well. We're just playing every game real solid. ... I feel like we're peaking at the right time.
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"We've been playing some good teams. Our record, really after the second period, if we have a lead, we really do shut it down. The other team really doesn't have a chance to come back and get that 'W' on us. I think our mind-set's different. We know what it takes to get over that hump that we couldn't get past in the past two years."
The Pacific Division could be the best division in hockey as San Jose, Anaheim and Dallas are all capable of winning the Stanley Cup.
San Jose got a huge boost at the trade deadline by acquiring the one defenseman a lot of teams -- the Flyers included -- wanted in Brian Campbell.
"Getting Brian Campbell, we added something that I think we all thought we needed -- a puck-moving defenseman," Thornton said. "He can play a lot of minutes, plays good defensively, plays the power play."
Thornton said that Campbell's skating ability has pushed defenders back on the rush and allows the Sharks to attack with more speed.
"He just opens up a little bit more space for us offensive players to do what we're supposed to do," Thornton said. "He's making a huge difference for our offense."
PENGUINS 7, DEVILS 1, at Pittsburgh -- Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist, and Ryan Malone scored twice for Pittsburgh, which took a two-point lead over New Jersey atop the Atlantic.
DUCKS 2, COYOTES 1, at Glendale, Ariz. -- Teemu Selanne scored twice, and Anaheim beat Phoenix for only the second time in seven tries this season.
FLAMES 5, WILD 4, at Calgary, Alberta -- Jarome Iginla notched his seventh NHL hat trick, and Calgary beat Minnesota and is 6-0-2 in its last eight home games.
CANADIENS 3, BRUINS 2 (SO), at Montreal -- Saku Koivu scored in the shootout, and Montreal beat Boston to complete a sweep of the season series.
PANTHERS 4, LIGHTNING 2, at Sunrise, Fla. -- Tomas Vokoun stopped 35 shots, and Florida kept working toward a playoff spot with a win victory over Tampa Bay. The Panthers entered the game trailing eighth-place Boston by four points in the Eastern Conference.
RED WINGS 4, BLUE JACKETS 1, at Columbus, Ohio -- Pavel Datsyuk set up power-play goals by Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg, then scored a short-handed tally to lead Detroit past Columbus.
KINGS 4, STARS 2, at Dallas -- Lubomir Visnovsky scored the go-ahead goal with 2:06 left after Michal Handzus tied it 55 seconds earlier, and Los Angeles handed Dallas its season high-tying fourth consecutive loss.
OILERS 7, AVALANCHE 5, at Edmonton, Alberta -- Sam Gagner scored twice, and Edmonton beat Colorado for its 11th win in 14 games. The Oilers are three points behind the Avalanche for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
PREDATORS 2, BLACKHAWKS 1 (SO), at Nashville, Tenn. -- Rich Peverley and Alexander Radulov scored in the shootout, and Nashville stopped a six-game home skid by defeating Chicago.
MAPLE LEAFS 5, SENATORS 4, at Ottawa -- In Toronto's fourth consecutive win over Ottawa, all nine goals were scored by a different person.
Bee news services contributed to this report. Additional NHL news can be found online at www.modbee.com/nhl.