<
>

Kings sweep four-game season series from Blues

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sean Avery, the NHL leader in penalty
minutes, played the entire game carrying a pink stick. Nobody gave
him a hard time about it for obvious reasons. Besides, it was for a
noble cause.

Avery scored the tying goal early in the third period and
Michael Cammalleri got the go-ahead goal less than 4 minutes later
on a power play, helping the Los Angeles Kings beat the St. Louis
Blues 3-1 on Saturday night.

Avery and teammates Brent Sopel and Nathan Dempsey were among
200 NHL players using the specially designed sticks during pregame
warmups to support the NHL's "Tribute to Hockey Moms." The
autographed sticks, which had red ribbons painted on them, are to
be auctioned off at various fund raising events that support breast
cancer research.

Avery was the only Kings player to use it in the game. As he
celebrated his goal, he held his stick in the air and tapped it
with his right glove.

"It was nice," said Avery, who lost both of his grandfathers
to cancer in the same year. "Hopefully it raises some money -- and
what better cause? Our moms have been a big part of all of our
careers, and I don't think any of us would be playing without their
help."

Eric Belanger tied a career high with his 16th goal, Sopel had
two assists, and Mathieu Garon made 23 saves after giving up 14
goals in the previous three games. St. Louis rookie Mike Glumac had
a power-play goal in the second period.

With the victory, the Kings swept the four-game season series.
The Blues, who entered the NHL with the Kings and four other
expansion teams in 1967-68, went an entire season without beating
the Kings only one other time. They were 0-3 with a tie in 1974-75.
St. Louis had beaten Los Angeles six straight times entering this
season.

Craig Conroy returned to the Los Angeles lineup after missing
two games with an eye injury, but his two partners on the team's
top-scoring line remained sidelined because of injuries. Pavol
Demitra missed his second game with a concussion, and Alexander
Frolov his ninth because of a separated shoulder.

The Kings outshot the Blues 18-3 in the final period. Sopel
threw the puck toward the net from the right point and Avery
stopped it with his stick in front of the crease before swerving
around goalie Patrick Lalime and sliding his 14th goal past
Lalime's stick.

"The first two periods we did a good job and did what we wanted
to do," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "The third period got away
from us because we ran out of gas -- or at least it looked like we
ran out of gas."

St. Louis' Christian Backman was serving a holding penalty when
Cammalleri put the Kings ahead 2-1 with his 24th goal, a slap shot
from the top of the right circle that deflected in off the skate of
Blues defenseman Kevin Dallman as he was checking Dustin Brown in
front of the crease.

"It just shows that you've just got to shoot the puck at the
net," Conroy said. "It deflected off their guy and in. That's the
secret to a lot of power plays -- not the pretty goal. Just get the
puck back to the point, get shots to the net and get traffic in
front. That time, it worked great."

Los Angeles had only six shots on net in the first period
despite four power plays -- including a two-man advantage for 1:25.
The Blues were so busy killing off penalties, they recorded only
one shot themselves during the first 14½ minutes.

Blumac put St. Louis ahead at 11:36 of the second period while
Cammalleri was off for hooking Backman. The Kings turned the puck
over at the opposite blue line and Dean McAmmond fed the puck to
Blumac, who beat Garon high to the glove side with a 45-foot snap
shot for his fourth goal in 16 NHL games.

"I think we played nervous at the beginning and we were
tense," Conroy said. "We know they're a team that's struggling,
but that's a dangerous kind of team. Our backs were against the
wall going into the third, and the guys stepped up. We knew how big
these two points were."

Game notes
Los Angeles has scored one first-period goal over its last
eight games. They came in with 75 first-period goals, second in the
league to Colorado's 82. ... Belanger crashed into the right post
during a power play with 11 minutes left in the second period,
knocking the net off its mooring. But neither referee noticed it,
and play continued as Belanger put the moved the net back in place.