Jackets Win Fifth Straight Home Game, 7-4

Wednesday, 02.08.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Jackets Win Fifth Straight Home Game, 7-4
(AP) - The Los Angeles Kings are in such a rut, they can't even stay in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Trevor Letowski and Jason Chimera each scored twice and the Blue Jackets beat Los Angeles 7-4 Wednesday night, sending the reeling Kings to their seventh straight loss.

"We're beating ourselves up mentally," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. "We need to win a game to get the feeling going."

The Kings have 17 more standings points than Columbus, but they allowed a tie game to quickly turn into a rout.

Jaroslav Balastik had a goal and an assist, and David Vyborny and Sergei Fedorov also scored for Columbus, which tied a team record for goals in a game.

Manny Malhotra and Ron Hainsey each had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have won 11 of 15.

"When you get four goals from your checking line, it's huge," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said of Letowski, Chimera and Malhotra. "They worked so hard."

Eric Belanger, Dustin Brown and Derek Armstrong each had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles, which has been outscored 33-15 during its skid. Tim Gleason also scored and Tom Kostopoulos added two assists for the Kings, losers of six straight on the road.

Murray offered no excuses, even when asked what impact playing two games in two nights had on his club.

"I would say none," he said. "We used our whole bench and we certainly had the energy to play well."

The teams were tied 3-3 after two periods but Columbus broke it open with three goals in a 3:34 span.

A streaking Chimera took a pass from Malhotra and fired a shot from the left circle past goaltender Mathieu Garon at 6:57 to make it 4-3.

"Chimera's been skating exceptionally well the last few games," Malhotra said.

The Blue Jackets kept the pressure up during a power play. Hainsey's point shot caromed off the stick of a Los Angeles defenseman, struck Vyborny in the chin and bounced into the net at 10:17.

Fedorov scored just 14 seconds later, converting a giveaway by Garon to make it 6-3. Garon, who made 28 saves was then replaced by Jason LaBarbera.

"I think we showed our resiliency and we stuck to our game plan," Malhotra said.

The Blue Jackets started sluggishly behind suspect goaltending by Marc Denis, who recovered to make 23 saves.

Belanger put the Kings ahead early, scoring with a soft shot - the first of the game - from the left circle just 35 seconds in for his 13th goal.

"It took us a period to get our legs underneath us," Gallant said of his team, which returned Tuesday evening from Vancouver.

Brown found an opening outside the crease and converted Kostopoulos' centering pass from behind the net to make it 2-0 at 13:46 with his 12th goal.

Letowski pounced on a loose puck inside the right circle and made it 2-1 at 15:26.

Gleason responded for the Kings only 3 minutes later with a long slap shot from inside the point past Denis. The goal was Gleason's first in 103 NHL games.

"We started great, everything was right on schedule," Kings forward Craig Conroy said.

But Letowski scored again, his eighth of the season, on a redirection from the slot off Hainsey's point shot to make it 3-2 at 1:52 of the second period.

"His head was up," Letowski said. "I don't know if he was looking at me. But it was a good hard shot along the ice and I got my stick on it."

Columbus tied it with a power-play goal by Balastik at 14:45. Duvie Westcott faked a slap shot and slid a pass to Balastik, who beat Garon with a wrist shot from the left circle.

"We just let them come back," Conroy said. "The bottom line is we made some mistakes and they capitalized."

Armstrong made it 6-4 with 4:23 remaining.

Chimera scored his second and 12th of the season into an empty net at 19:36.

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