ST. LOUIS — The Kings climbed out of sole possession of last place and into a three-way tie for third in the Smythe Division with a 4-4 overtime tie against the Blues Saturday night before 12,548 fans at the St. Louis Arena.
At the same time, Marcel Dionne reached another milestone, becoming only the third player in National Hockey League history to record 900 assists when he set up a first-period goal by right wing Dave Taylor.
Only two other NHL players have 900 or more assists--Gordie Howe (1,049) and Stan Mikita (926).
"Not too many guys around the league have done it, but (Wayne) Gretzky's going to do it," Dionne said. "But now, I'm going to shoot for 1,000 and I hope to be around long enough to do it."
Dionne also scored two goals as the Kings completed a five-game excursion with a 3-1-1 record, their best trip of the season. The Kings earned 7 out of a possible 10 points during the trip.
"Lately, Marcel has been coming on real strong," King Coach Pat Quinn said. "He's been a real leader, and it's made a difference in our play.
"It was a heck of a trip for us. Our guys battled hard tonight and showed some real grit. We didn't get a win, but they (the Blues) got a (cheap) goal to tie it."
The Kings (13-23-5) headed home tied with Winnipeg and Vancouver for third place with 31 points in the division. The Kings will play four of their next five games at the Forum, where they have a record of 4-13-2.
However, the Kings wasted a chance to move into sole possession of third by squandering leads of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 against St. Louis.
Center Dave Barr of the Blues scored the tying goal with 3:07 left in the third period when he deflected a shot by teammate Lee Norwood into the net off his skate.
Center Bernie Nicholls of the Kings missed a chance to win the game in regulation when he hit the post after Taylor had set him up with a near-perfect pass. The Blues' goalie, Greg Millen, was out of position, leaving the net wide open.
"I was at a bad angle and I hit the post," Nicholls said.
Said Quinn: "Those are the kinds of chances he usually cashes in. He had a wide open net."
On the other end, King goalie Bob Janecyk played perhaps his best game of the season as he faced 47 shots, including 4 in the five-minute overtime period.
"That was one of the great performances put on by a goaltender in this building," St. Louis Coach Jacques Demers said. "They were not little shots--they were point-blank shots."
The Kings, playing their third game in four nights, were short three players. Left wing Phil Sykes and center Len Hachborn sat out the game with groin injuries. And right wing Bryan Erickson returned home to Minnesota Saturday after his infant son was hospitalized with pneumonia.
The Kings were so shorthanded that left wing Dave (Tiger) Williams suited up despite having a shoulder injury. Williams said he wasn't ready to play but might help by serving a penalty for someone else, such as the goalie.
The Kings overcame it all to take a 2-0 second-period lead on goals by Taylor and Dionne.
Demers pulled starting goalie Rick Wamsley in favor of Millen after Dionne scored on the Kings' first shot of the second period. Wamsley had given up two goals on 10 shots.
"Wamsley has been struggling in the last three weeks," Demers said. "I didn't do it to embarrass him--I did it for the good of the hockey club."
The Blues, seemingly picking up the pace after Wamsley was replaced, scored two straight goals to tie it at 2-2.
Left wing Mark Reeds scored off a pass from center Rick Meagher with 7:38 left in the second period.
Center Bernie Federko tied the score when he scored a power-play goal with 2:53 left in the second period, banking a shot into the net off the left post.
To no avail, the Kings protested the goal, claiming that the puck wasn't fully over the line.
"I didn't think it was in," Janecyk said. "I thought it was right on the line, but it was close."
Said Demers, after looking at a TV replay of the disputed goal: "It was over by two feet; there was no question."
However, the Kings regained the lead just 30 seconds later when left wing J.P. Kelly scored his second goal in two games, this one off a pass from rookie center Brian Wilks with 2:23 left.
The Blues tied it at 3-3 after Millen made a big save off a three-on-two break.
Millen cleared the puck out to right wing Greg Paslawski, who beat Janecyk to tie the score with 18 seconds left in the second period.
It looked as if the Kings had won the game after Dionne scored his second goal with 7:48 left, but their lead lasted only about 4 1/2 minutes before Barr tied it.
King Notes The Kings will play the New York Rangers Wednesday night at the Forum. They are at Vancouver Friday night before returning home to play Vancouver at the Forum next Saturday night. . . . St. Louis (18-16-5) moved within one point of the first-place Chicago Black Hawks in the Norris Division. The Blues will play the Kings in consecutive games at the Forum Jan. 21 and 23.