ST. LOUIS - A goal from the St. Louis Blues' defence is a bonus at any time.
This time, Jay McKee's calculated risk was the key to ending a lengthy slump. McKee got the go-ahead score off an aggressive play midway through the third period, tapping in his own rebound after rushing the net, in a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. It's the first goal in 12 games from the Blues' defence, mostly a collection of stay-at-home types whose season leader is rookie Erik Johnson with only three goals.
"Look around at teams that are in the playoff hunt and they have defencemen that are jumping in and helping out," McKee said. "That's something we need to do a little bit more of, and it's nice to chip in."
Martin Rucinsky and Jay McClement also had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who ended a four-game losing streak and won for only the third time in 14 games. The Blues have won five straight against the Kings.
Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown scored for the Kings, who wound up a 4-3-1 trip made necessary by the Grammy Awards kicking them out of the Staples Center for nearly a month.
"We showed some immaturity tonight, I think," coach Marc Crawford said. "It looked as though we seemed to be a little bit satisfied."
The Kings last played at home on Jan. 12 and they return Friday to play the Flames after the best eight-game trip, which produced nine points, in franchise history.
The nine points is tied for second-best in franchise history for any trip for the Kings, who are 9-5-1 in their last 15 games despite the loss. Players were ready to be home.
"We have tomorrow off," goalie Jason LaBarbera said. "So it'll be nice just to hang out at home and spend time with our families."
Manny Legace was doubled over early in warmups after taking a shot in the shoulder from Rucinsky, but shook it off and made 25 saves for the Blues, who have won only two games in regulation since Jan. 10. The Blues totalled three goals the previous two games and lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Wild on Sunday.
"It's obviously a desperate time for us," Rucinsky said. "We've got no time left and we've got to play hard, we know that."
Legace said his shoulder went numb and he couldn't hold his stick for several minutes, but the feeling gradually returned and he finished warmups.
"You have to, you've got to warm up," Legace said. "I just couldn't raise my arm. If anybody shot high blocker, it would have gone in."
Rucinsky rushed to Legace's side after a wrist shot got away.
"I got scared for a little bit," Rucinsky said. "I don't know what happened. The puck just came off my stick really hard and high, but he's fine, so that's good."
McKee has two goals and six assists in 45 games. But he rushed the net on the go-ahead goal, knocking in a pass from Rucinsky at 8:29 of the third. David Backes added an insurance goal on a rebound at 13:25.
Frolov got his 15th goal in the first period and Brown his 25th in the second for the Kings, each time giving Los Angeles the lead.
The Blues tied it twice, the first time on an unusual goal. Andy McDonald was struck in front by teammate Barret Jackman's shot and the puck deflected high into the air and dropped behind LaBarbera and into the net at the 33-second mark of the second. McDonald tried to tap it into the net, but whiffed on the wobbling puck.
Brown had been limited to three assists in seven games before putting the Kings ahead again at 4:07 with a shot from the left circle. McClement hit the goal post on a breakaway, but Rucinsky had an easy tap-in on the rebound at 9:01.
Notes: Blues F Lee Stempniak, with only two assists in 10 games, was a healthy scratch. The Blues also elected not to dress rookie Yan Stastny, son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, after recalling him from Peoria of the AHL Younger brother Paul remains out of the Avalanche lineup as he recovers from an appendectomy. ... The Kings outscored opponents 11-4 on the trip despite the Blues' two third-period goals.