The Los Angeles Kings got two power-play goals from Glen Murray and withstood a furious second-period assault by San Jose yesterday to post a 4-1 victory over the visiting Sharks and regain sole possession of the Pacific Division lead.
"We get up for the games, just like they do, but we've improved a lot from last year," Murray said.
Donald Audette scored the go-ahead goal and Bryan Smolinski had three assists for the Kings, who have beaten the Sharks in each of their last five meetings. Los Angeles is 14-7-4 and leads the league with 33 points.
Kings' goalie Jamie Storr made 18 of his 33 saves in the second period and improved to 6-2-1.
"We haven't particularly played well against them," Sharks defenseman Jeff Norton said. "It was a big game and we should have been more prepared."
* AVALANCHE 7, FLAMES 1: Peter Forsberg scored twice and added three assists in his first game of the season, helping Colorado end a three-game home losing streak.
Forsberg, sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery on June 29, scored on his first shift as he poked the puck between the skates of Calgary goalie Fred Brathwaite 1 minute 26 seconds into the game.
Milan Hejduk had a goal and two assists and Shjon Podein and Chris Drury each added a goal and an assist for the Avalanche.
Marc Denis stopped 46 shots in ending Calgary's three-game winning streak.
Cory Stillman scored with Calgary on a 5-on-3 advantage at 14:37 for the Flames' lone goal.
* MAPLE LEAFS 5, OILERS 2: In Toronto, Mats Sundin scored twice as the Maple Leafs moved into first place in the Eastern Conference. Steve Thomas ended a 13-game goal drought with his second of the season and added two assists, while Jonas Hoglund added a goal and two assists.
Sundin contributed his 400th point as a member of the Maple Leafs as Toronto moved ahead of idle Philadelphia in the East with 31 points. Yanic Perreault added a pair of assists for Toronto to give him a team-high 21 points.
Bill Guerin and Josef Beranek scored power-play goals for Edmonton.
* BLUES 8, BLACKHAWKS 3: Scott Young scored two goals and assisted on another to help St. Louis move into a tie with Detroit for first place in the Central Division.
Al MacInnis and Craig Conroy each had a goal and two assists, while Michal Handzus and Tyson Nash scored short-handed goals for the Blues. Rookie Ladislav Nagy got his first NHL goal and Lubos Bartecko also scored.
The largest crowd of the year at Kiel Center, 20,287, saw St. Louis improve to 7-1-2 in its last 10 home games.
Blackhawks goaltender Jocelyn Thibault will be sidelined two to four weeks after breaking a finger on his left hand in an unsuccessful attempt to glove an Al MacInnis slap shot in the first period. MacInnis is known for possessing the hardest slap shot in the league.
* CANADIENS 2, CANUCKS 1: In Montreal, Sergei Zholtok scored with less than eight minutes left to give the Canadiens their fourth straight win. Zholtok, who also assisted on Karl Dykhuis's first-period goal, took a pass from Dainius Zubrus and put a backhander past goaltender Garth Snow at 12:20 to break a 1-1 tie.
Andrew Cassels scored at 6:34 of the third to tie the score for Vancouver, ending goaltender Jose Theodore's shutout streak at 91 minutes, 52 seconds.
Dykhuis scored for Montreal in the first period.
* PANTHERS 3, THRASHERS 0: Trevor Kidd made 24 saves for his 16th career shutout and Florida scored twice in the first five minutes to win at home.
Cam Stewart scored 1:16 into the game. Paul Laus caromed the puck off the boards at center ice to Stewart, who beat defenseman Kevin Dean to the puck. Stewart skated in alone and beat goalie Scott Langkow.
The Panthers made it 2-0 at 5:02 when Scott Mellanby slipped a backhanded pass from the faceoff area to Rob Niedermayer, who slapped it past Langkow. Pavel Bure added his 10th goal.
* MIGHTY DUCKS 4, PREDATORS 3: Paul Kariya and Steve Rucchin scored two goals apiece and Oleg Tverdovsky had three assists for visiting Anaheim.
Kariya's second goal of the game and 11th of the season put the Ducks up 3-1 late in the second period.
Cliff Ronning's power-play goal cut it to 3-2 at 8:52 of the third period for the Predators, who lost their fifth straight. But Rucchin put the rebound of Tverdovsky's blast past Dunham at 12:17 to restore the two-goal lead.
* HURRICANES 5, PENGUINS 3: Sami Kapanen scored goals six minutes apart in the second period as Carolina rallied from a pair of deficits at home. Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-leading 19th goal for Pittsburgh.
CAPTION: Kings center Jason Blake, left, tries to wrest control of the puck from Sharks defenseman Jeff Norton.