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Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Los Angeles Kings 4 FINAL @NHLdotcom

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Rick Nash ended his longest goal-scoring drought of the season a little too late to help Columbus extend its unbeaten streak against Los Angeles to nine games.

Ian Laperriere had two goals and an assist, and the Kings shrugged off two goals by Nash in the final 6:11 of the game and hung on to beat the Blue Jackets 4-3 on Saturday night.

``It's a gratifying win because these games against teams like Columbus are tough to win, and obviously, our record against them indicates that,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ``I told the guys before the third period that this was as important a 20-minute segment as we're ever going to play. I give Columbus credit for the way they battled at the end of the game and hung in there.''

Luc Robitaille scored on a power play, Sean Avery had a goal and an assist and Eric Belanger added two assists to help Los Angeles end a five-game winless streak that included two overtime defeats.

The Kings passed idle St. Louis for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot _ just two points behind fifth-place Nashville. They have 31 standings points in its last 30 games despite only seven victories (7-6-13-4).

``It was a game they needed, and they played well,'' Nash said. ``They played a solid game, even though they had some lapses at the end.''

Nash snapped an eight-game dry spell with his fifth two-goal game and second against the Kings. The 19-year-old left wing scored his first goal from in front of the crease after Alexander Svitov knocked the puck off defenseman Jason Holland's stick _ then converted a rebound of Anders Eriksson's long slap shot for his 33rd goal to tie Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for the NHL lead.

``It's a pretty big relief,'' Nash said. ``The season is full of ups and downs, so you can't go through a whole season scoring in every game or every other game. You are going to have your slumps.''

Jody Shelley ended a personal 44-game goal drought for the Blue Jackets, who are winless in their last 10 road games (0-7-3) _ including five straight losses _ and are next to last in the Western Conference. Despite all their problems, they had seven victories and a tie against the Kings since their previous loss to them on Feb. 26, 2002.

``This is a team I don't think should be any trouble for us,'' Columbus goalie Marc Denis said. ``There is no reason for the way we showed up tonight _ or the way we didn't show up. This was embarrassing.''

One night after goalie Pascal Leclaire blew a two-goal lead in his NHL debut at Phoenix and gave up the winning goal with 19 seconds left in the third period, Denis was back in the net and stopped 14 of 16 shots in the first period to help the Blue Jackets stay close.

The Kings outshot Columbus 11-0 over the first 10{ minutes and opened the scoring when Laperriere converted a rebound of Avery's one-timer from the left boards at the 7:46 mark.

``They gave us a lot of problems the last couple of games. So we knew if we came out with a good start, we could cut their legs off because they played last night, too,'' Laperriere said.

Robitaille made it 2-0 at 16:17 of the first, after Svitov was sent off for holding Alexander Frolov. Manny Malhotra made a diving attempt inside the Columbus blue line to swat Tomas Zizka's cross-ice pass out of the zone, but Jaroslav Modry kept it in and Robitaille snapped off a 45-foot one-timer that bounced into the net off Denis' glove for his 16th goal and 647th of his career.

Shelley cut the Kings' lead in half at 11:39 of the second period with his third goal of the season and first since his two-goal effort against Calgary on Nov. 9.

But Avery restored the Kings' two-goal margin less than 2{ minutes later after Belanger forced a turnover by Svitov along the left boards in the Columbus zone. Laperriere then finished off a two-on-one break with Belanger against defenseman Aaron Johnson with 16:09 to play.

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