EDMONTON - Dan Boyle's second-period goal stood up as the winner in the San Jose Sharks' 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for the Sharks (51-15-11), who won their third in a row and 51st of the season, tying a franchise record from the 2006-07 campaign for most wins in a season.
Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves and improved his record to 40-9-8, helping the Sharks push their points total to 113 - three more than Eastern Conference leader Boston and six ahead of Detroit.
Sam Gagner replied for the Oilers (36-33-9), who lost their third in a row and sixth in the last seventh to see their playoff hopes further diminished. Edmonton remains in 11th place in the Western Conference standings with four games to play.
It didn't take long for the Sharks to taste first blood, striking just 52 seconds in when Cheechoo ducked behind Joe Thornton and used him as a screen to send his 11th of the season past Edmonton starter Dwayne Roloson.
San Jose had an opportunity to go up by two seven minutes in when Ales Hemsky coughed up the puck at his own blue-line to give Jeremy Roenick a breakaway, but Roloson was able to make the big glove save.
Edmonton almost tied the game up with seven minutes to play in the opening frame, as Ales Kotalik put a shot through Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov's legs, but the puck rang off the post to keep it a 1-0 game after the first 20 minutes.
San Jose added to its lead before the midway point of the second on a power play, as Boyle pinched in from the point and got a rebound in tight with nothing but net to shoot at, making it 2-0.
The Oilers clawed their way back into the contest with a power-play goal with just 1:42 to play in the second. Robert Nilsson sent a backhand pass to Gagner trailing on the rush and he beat Nabokov up high for his 15th of the year to make it 2-1.
Edmonton came out strong in the third with a number of early opportunities, including six minutes in when Kotalik put it through Nabokov's legs only to see it deflect harmlessly off the post for the second time in the game.
The Oilers continued to apply the pressure but couldn't get the equalizer in the scoreless third.
Both teams are back at it on Saturday as the Oilers play the fourth game of a six-game homestand against Vancouver while the Sharks return home to host Aanheim.
Notes: Defenceman Rob Blake and forward Marcel Goc both returned to the San Jose lineup and they needed the relief. In their last outing against Calgary, the Sharks were missing nine players due to injury. ... Among those still on the mend for San Jose are forwards Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe. ... Robert Nilsson returned to the Oilers lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last couple games, taking the place of Jean-Francois Jacques. ... Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson made his 34th consecutive start. ... Sharks centre Joe Pavelski extended his scoring streak to seven games with his second period assist. ... San Jose is now 36-5-4 when scoring first in a game this season.