Many thought that the Vancouver Canucks would come back to the pack in the Smythe Division by midseason.
They expected the Kings and Calgary Flames to come on strong and slow down the surprise team of the NHL.
The season is past the halfway point, and there is nobody challenging the Canucks.
The Canucks, who won only 28 games last season and barely qualified for the playoffs, stretched their lead to nine points with a 4-2 victory over the Jets at Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
Greg Adams scored twice and Kirk McLean stopped 32 shots to lead the Canucks to their 24th victory in 44 games.
Pavel Bure had three assists for the Canucks, and Geoff Courtnall put them ahead for good with his 19th goal six minutes into the second period. He knocked in the rebound of a shot by Bure.
"It was a tense hockey game, all the way through," Vancouver Coach Pat Quinn said.
"It was the way to start a five-game trip."
Washington 6, St. Louis 1--The Capitals weren't content with merely stopping the Blues' power play at St. Louis, they turned them into goals.
Mike Ridley and Kimitri Khristich scored short-handed goals to give the Capitals five in their last three games.
Mike Liut stopped 27 shots and the Capitals remained in a tie with the New York Rangers atop the Patrick Division.
Brett Hull got an assist on the Blues' goal, extending his scoring streak to 22 games.
Until this display of early-season form, the Capitals had gone 10-10-3 in their previous 23 games.
New York Islanders 6, Detroit 2--The Red Wings dominate the Norris Division, but they are an easy mark for the struggling Islanders.
After beating the Red Wings, 5-2, in Detroit last week, they came right back to beat them at Uniondale, N.Y.
Goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick, in his second start of the season, won for the first time since last March. Fitzpatrick, sidelined because of a rare blood disease, stopped 20 shots.
New York Rangers 6, Buffalo 2--It seemed the Sabres had someone in the penalty box most of the game at New York as the Rangers converted on three power plays.
Mark Messier scored two of them to help avenge a loss at Buffalo Sunday night. The victory kept the Rangers tied with Washington for first place in the Patrick Division.
Chicago 1, Philadelphia 1--Ron Hextall stopped 33 shots at Philadelphia to earn the Flyers a tie.
The Flyers, outplayed much of the game, extended their home unbeaten string to nine games (4-0-5).
Calgary 5, Quebec 3--The Flames spotted the Nordiques a two-goal lead in 13 minutes at Quebec, then stormed back to victory.
Thomas Forslund, set up by Robert Reichel, scored the tiebreaking goal halfway through the third period.