LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sean Avery is still a work in progress for the Los Angeles Kings, who are trying to keep him out of the penalty box and get him on the scoresheet.
Avery, whose 625 penalty minutes over the last three seasons are the most of any NHL player, scored twice within 3 minutes of the second period and helped the Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
"The one thing you realize when you play with Sean is how good a hockey player he is - when he's not doing all the other stuff," said Michael Cammalleri, who scored the winner on a power play with 5:55 left. "Sean can score, he's got skill and he has unbelievable speed. And when he uses those tools, he's tough to stop out there."
Los Angeles tied a season best with its fourth straight victory after losing seven consecutive. All the wins were by one-goal margins.
The Kings had to withstand a Columbus power play during the final 1:20 after Avery was sent off for high-sticking Duvie Westcott.
"The penalty at the end of the game, you're not pleased about, but the focus today for the most part should be on the fact that Sean had a great game," coach Andy Murray said. "Sean knows how I feel about things, and I think our players are going to deal with that with Sean. We always want him to stay on the positive side of things, but certainly we're not pleased with the penalties."
The Kings, who came in with the league's second-worst, penalty-killing percentage, opened the scoring at 13:11 of the second period with their 13th short-handed goal and third against the Blue Jackets. Columbus captain Adam Foote lost control of the puck to Avery just inside the Kings blue line and got tangled up with him, leading to a 2-on-1 rush that Avery finished with a slap shot that beat goaltender Marc Denis.
Avery made it 2-0 with his 12th goal, scored off a one-timer just 15 seconds after teammate Luc Robitaille hit the crossbar on a breakaway.
"Sean's got some ability, no question about it," Murray said. "What you need to have with Sean is to identify his role for him, and he can be very effective in that role. He's one of the better skaters in the league and he's got the ability to pull away from people."
The Blue Jackets rallied with Nikolai Zherdev's 20th and 21st goals. The first came at 2:11 of the third, a backhander off a rebound of Manny Malhotra's shot. The second, scored with 15:25 left, came after Jan Hrdina's 30-foot shot struck Mathieu Garon in the mask.
"It's a compliment for us to come back like that in someone else's arena, but it would have been nice to win the game," forward Rick Nash said. "They're a good team. They have good defenseman, good forwards and good goaltending. But we played a good game and we were right there with them."
Cammalleri put the Kings back in front while Foote was serving an interference penalty. Cammalleri beat Denis high to the glove side with a wrist shot from the right circle after Denis lost his mask in a goalmouth collision and stopped a shot by Joe Corvo.
"We've had letdowns with the lead lately," Kings defenseman Aaron Miller said. "I think we've been playing on our heels a little bit too much instead of going after that next goal. At least we're not packing it in. We're getting the wins. But, yeah, it's something we're going to have to fix. We're going to have to be a better team when we have the lead."
Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov, two-thirds of the Kings' No. 1 line, both missed their second straight games because of injuries sustained in the Olympics.
"This team's been playing with injuries for three years now, and different guys have been picking it up on different nights," Miller said. "We certainly want those guys back as soon as we can get them. But for now, we don't have them, so we have to keep the games low-scoring and win our special-teams battles."
Notes: Columbus D Bryan Berard, who turns 29 on Sunday, missed his ninth straight game because of back spasms. D Ron Hainsey missed his second straight game because of a sprained knee. ... The Fedorov-Nash-Zherdev line has combined for 35 goals and 41 assists in 29 games since Nash returned from a sprained knee on Dec. 17.
|SHG - Sean Avery (11) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 LAK
|Sean Avery (12) ASST: Tom Kostopoulos (13), Eric Belanger (17)|
2 - 0 LAK
|Nikolay Zherdev (20) ASST: Manny Malhotra (17), Luke Richardson (6)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Nikolay Zherdev (21) ASST: Jan Hrdina (19), Rick Nash (12)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Mike Cammalleri (21) ASST: Joe Corvo (20), Derek Armstrong (22)|
3 - 2 LAK
|Tim Gleason Holding against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Jan Hrdina Hooking against Craig Conroy|
|Jody Shelley Fighting (maj) against George Parros|
|George Parros Fighting (maj) against Jody Shelley|
|Sean Avery Charging against Luke Richardson|
|Luke Richardson Roughing against Sean Avery|
|Sergei Fedorov Holding against Eric Belanger|
|Joe Corvo Hooking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|David Vyborny Hooking against Mattias Norstrom|
|Derek Armstrong Charging against Trevor Letowski|
|Sergei Fedorov Hooking against Eric Belanger|
|Tom Kostopoulos Hooking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Derek Armstrong Boarding against Mike Rupp|
|Rick Nash Elbowing against Lubomir Visnovsky|
|Duvie Westcott Roughing against Sean Avery|
|Sean Avery Roughing against Duvie Westcott|
|Derek Armstrong Tripping against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Adam Foote Interference against Craig Conroy|
|David Vyborny Hooking against Joe Corvo|
|Sean Avery Hi-sticking against Duvie Westcott|