LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rookie Ryan Reaves put St. Louis ahead with his second NHL goal, Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves, and the Blues snapped a five-game skid with a 3-1 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
B.J. Crombeen and Alexander Steen also scored for St. Louis, which finally won a game in January with a solid defensive effort against the Kings, who have lost seven of eight.
The Blues bounced back solidly from a ramshackle 7-4 loss at Anaheim one night earlier, while Los Angeles dropped to 1-6-0 on its eight-game homestand.
Michal Handzus scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 18 shots for the Kings, who were leapfrogged in the Western Conference standings by St. Louis with their sixth loss in seven meetings with the Blues.
The Kings struggled to generate any offense against the Blues, who had Halak back in net after backup Ty Conklin was shredded by the Ducks. Halak got little work early, but punctuated his 16th victory with an exceptional sprawling pad save with 5:05 to play.
Los Angeles has lost seven of eight for the second time this season, matching a similar skid in November. The Kings are 21-5-1 outside those two prolonged funks, but the streaky club is losing midseason ground in the chase for its second straight playoff berth.
St. Louis scored first midway through the opening period when Crombeen tipped Alex Pietrangelo’s long wrist shot in front of Quick’s net for his fourth goal – Crombeen’s first in 21 games since Nov. 27.
Los Angeles evened it right after a power play expired early in the second period. Alec Martinez saved the puck from leaving the Blues’ zone before firing it at the net, where Handzus deflected it for his seventh goal.
But Reaves broke the tie late in the period when he pounced on a rebound of Chris Porter’s shot in front. The Blues recalled Reaves from the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen on Tuesday for his second stint with St. Louis this season, and he immediately scored his first NHL goal in Anaheim – although that one came late in the Blues’ blowout loss.
Steen then scored 64 seconds before the period ended, firing home a wrist shot after teammate Brad Boyes forced a turnover by Drew Doughty in the corner.
In his 200th NHL appearance, Doughty’s goal drought reached 13 games. The 2010 Norris Trophy finalist has just two goals in 37 games this season.
NOTES: Kings D Jack Johnson had an assist on his 24th birthday. The newly signed $30.5 million man has six assists in his last five games. Los Angeles rookie Kyle Clifford also turned 20. … Blues D Carlo Colaiacovo was scratched one night after getting hit in the face with the puck in Anaheim. … Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dropped the ceremonial first puck.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press