LOS ANGELES (AP) - The road and the Los Angeles Kings have been very good for the San Jose Sharks' playoff hopes.
Jonathan Cheechoo had two goals and an assist as Sharks moved one step closer to securing a playoff spot with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala made just 14 saves to earn his second shutout of the season. Scott Thornton, Joe Thornton and Steve Bernier scored third-period goals for San Jose as the Sharks moved into a seventh-place tie with Edmonton.
After wining all three games of a road trip to Dallas, Colorado and Los Angeles, the Sharks now have a two-point lead over ninth-place Vancouver and a four-point edge over the Kings in tenth.
"Obviously you want to make the playoffs as a first priority, but along the way you want to finish as high as you can," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "This road trip gives us a lot of confidence, because they were all tough games."
San Jose has won five straight against the Kings, taking three of the four games played in Los Angeles to lead the season series 6-1. The teams will meet in the final game of the season in San Jose.
"We made too many mistakes, it was everybody," said Kings forward Pavol Demitra, who was held without a shot. "We look like we are so nervous, like we don't want to play."
Cheechoo fired a 35-foot slap shot over the glove of Kings goalie Mathieu Garon to give San Jose a 1-0 lead 3:26 into the game.
"It seems as though the Kings thought we would come out slow tonight, we had a 60-minute, good effort from everyone and they underestimated how we'd come out," said Joe Thornton, who also improved his league-leading assist total to 83 with a pair.
Garon made two sharp glove saves in the second - one on Cheechoo, the other on Patrick Marleau off a two-on-one rush - to keep Los Angeles within a goal.
But Joe Thornton and Cheechoo were able to work a set play for a goal off a late-second period faceoff to give San Jose a two-goal cushion going into the third period. Thornton went forward on the draw and then slid a pass through the crease to Cheechoo for a tap-in goal.
"We've tried it a few times, it never really connected like tonight," said Cheechoo, who now has 48 goals, 41 since Thornton was acquired from Boston on Nov. 30. "You have to try things off the faceoff just to catch them off guard."
Toskala has started 13 of the last 16 games for San Jose, winning nine - including all three games of the Sharks road trip that ended in Los Angeles.
"He was great whenever we did break down. He made three or four great saves," Wilson said.
Los Angeles interim head coach John Torchetti dropped to 3-5 since replacing Andy Murray on March 21.
"I think I have to get them better prepared for the next game," Torchetti said. "I'm the coach, I'll take full responsibility."
Notes: Kings veteran left wing Luc Robitaille was a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Defenseman Nathan Dempsey was cleared to play following a concussion, but was also a healthy scratch. ... The Sharks will play four of their final six games at home.