ST. LOUIS – Lee Stempniak had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues jumped out to a three-goal lead and went on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Thursday night.

The win was the second straight for the Blues after losing 11 in a row. St. Louis has won back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season.

It also was the first win for St. Louis in eight home games (1-6-1).

The victory snapped the Kings’ five-game winning streak against the Blues. The last St. Louis win over Los Angeles since March 16, 2004.

St. Louis center David Backes scored his first NHL goal on a backhand in the slot at 10:47. Backes, a second-round pick in 2003, made his debut Tuesday in Pittsburgh and notched an assist.

The Blues took a 2-0 lead at 6:10 of the second period when Stempniak scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Stempniak’s shot went over the glove of Kings goalie Dan Cloutier and into the upper right corner of the net.

St. Louis went ahead 3-0 at 11:01 when Martin Rucinsky scored on a rebound in front of the net. Dennis Wideman ripped a slap shot from inside the blue line that Cloutier blocked. Battling two defensemen, Rucinsky knocked in the loose puck.

The Kings struck twice quickly early in the third period to get back in the game.

Anze Kopita used his backhand to score at 1:40. In his last five games, the 19-year-old center has five goals and three assists.

Los Angeles added a power-play goal at 3:24 on a rebound by Derek Armstrong after Blues goalie Manny Legace stopped two shots.

After the Kings outshot the Blues 10-0 in the first 10 minutes, the Blues regained some momentum. Jamal Mayers found a Jay McClement streaking toward the net and put the puck on his stick. McClement rammed the home the goal at 9:37 for a 4-2 lead.

Barret Jackman added an empty-net goal with 21 seconds left. It was his first goal of the season.

Notes: Blues coach Andy Murray’s last win as Kings coach before he was fired was a 3-1 decision against the Blues on March 18. … the Kings have been outscored by 23 goals this season. … The Blues have allowed a power-play goal in their last nine games. St. Louis has been short-handed 39 times in Murray’s six games as coach. … The Blues assigned forward Trent Whitfield to the Peoria Rivermen, the club’s AHL affiliate.

AP-ES-12-21-06 2230EST


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