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 14 1/2 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."
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.
|PPG - Mike Glumac (4) ASST: Dean McAmmond (19)|
1 - 0 STL
|Sean Avery (14) ASST: Eric Belanger (18), Brent Sopel (26)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Mike Cammalleri (24) ASST: Lubomir Visnovsky (44), Joe Corvo (24)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Eric Belanger (16) ASST: Sean Avery (22), Tom Kostopoulos (14)|
3 - 1 LAK
|Dallas Drake Cross checking against Sean Avery|
|Keith Tkachuk Hooking against Eric Belanger|
|George Parros Fighting (maj) against Matt Walker|
|Matt Walker Fighting (maj) against George Parros|
|Scott Young Slashing against Eric Belanger|
|Bryce Salvador Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Jeff Giuliano Hooking against Dallas Drake|
|George Parros Roughing against Timofei Shishkanov|
|Tom Kostopoulos Tripping against Lee Stempniak|
|Scott Young Interference against Brent Sopel|
|Barret Jackman Holding against Dustin Brown|
|Mike Cammalleri Hooking against Christian Backman|
|Luc Robitaille Hooking against Dean McAmmond|
|Barret Jackman Roughing against Dustin Brown|
|Mark Rycroft Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Christian Backman Holding against Eric Belanger|
|Matt Walker Closing hand on puck|
|Christian Backman Cross checking against Dustin Brown|
|Eric Belanger Interference against Mike Glumac|
|Mark Parrish Holding against Barret Jackman|
|Nathan Dempsey Slashing against Mike Glumac|