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St. Louis Skates Shorthanded, but Kings Come Up on the Short End, 4-3

January 24, 1986|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

Coach Jacques Demers of the St. Louis Blues, angry after the Kings beat the Blues Tuesday night, benched five players for Thursday night's rematch.

Demers' gamble worked as St. Louis, using just 17 players, hung on to defeat the Kings, 4-3, before 9,942 fans at the Forum.

Left wing Mark Hunter scored consecutive power-play goals as the Blues broke a three-game losing streak.

St. Louis center Dave Barr, left wing Kevin LaVallee, right wing Denis Cyr and defensemen Lee Norwood and Jim Pavese did not dress for the game.

"The decision was made after I looked at the films," Demers said. "I think the performance of the five players was not up to par.

"I think it was obvious that the players we had tonight responded to it. I did this once before in 1976 when I was coaching the Indianapolis Racers (in the defunct World Hockey Assn.). They won that game and went 9-0-2 after that."

King Coach Pat Quinn said he'd never seen a team intentionally play shorthanded, adding: "Obviously, it worked because they won and got two points.

"We got a gift Tuesday (in a 6-3 win), and I think our guys had their palms out thinking they were going to get another gift. They had 17 guys dressed and we had 20, but they outworked us."

The Kings (15-25-6), who had a three-game unbeaten streak broken, remained in third place in the Smythe Division, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who lost to the Boston Bruins Thursday night.

The Blues (20-19-6) moved into sole possession of second place in the Norris Division, one point ahead of the Minnesota North Stars, who lost to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night.

The Kings scored their third shorthanded goal of the season at 2:59 of the first period when center Bernie Nicholls tipped in a shot by defenseman Mark Hardy to give them a 1-0 lead. Hardy extended his scoring streak to four games with the assist. Right wing Brian Erickson also got an assist on the play.

However, the Blues scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.

Hunter tied it at 1-1 with 8:31 left in the first period when he scored on a rebound of a shot by Ron Flockhart.

Hunter scored his second goal just after coming out of the penalty box to give the Blues a 2-1 lead with 11:29 left in the second period.

The Kings had a five-on-three power play with 7:09 left in the second period and a chance to tie the game at 2-2, but it was nullified when left wing Dave (Tiger) Williams received a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute holding penalty after a scuffle in front of the Blues' net with 5:26 left in the second period.

King defenseman Jay Wells was called for slashing a little more than a minute later, giving St. Louis a two-man advantage. And the Blues cashed in on another power play when Joe Mullen scored his 25th goal to make it 3-1 with 3:32 left in the second period. Mullen extended his scoring streak to six games. He has six goals and seven assists during that time.

Williams was so angry that he reportedly smashed a TV set in the locker room and put his stick through the glass in front of a fire extinguisher.

Williams later denied breaking the TV set, but a team official confirmed it.

Blue center Rick Meagher scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway with 33 seconds left in the second period to give the Blues a three-goal lead.

The Kings scored twice in the final period. Right wing Jim Fox got his first goal since Oct. 12 at 2:49 of the period, and Dave Taylor got a power-play goal at 7:51 to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games. Marcel Dionne, who set up the goal, has scored a point in his last seven games.

King Notes

The Kings play the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night at Edmonton and the Calgary Flames Monday night at Calgary. . . . They will return home next Wednesday night to play the Minnesota North Stars. . . . King goalie Roland Melanson will be out for two to three weeks with a groin injury, the team announced.

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