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Stars 3, Blues 2

(DALLAS) - The Dallas Stars made a big trade with New Jersey because they wanted to jump-start their offense.

They couldn't have expected Randy McKay to provide the first spark.

McKay had his eighth and ninth assists of the season, including a spectacular one on the game-winner, leading the Stars past the Blues 3-2 Wednesday night.

``My ice time had diminished in New Jersey, so it's nice to at least play and do something,'' McKay said.

McKay hardly slept Tuesday night after learning that he and Jason Arnott were headed south in exchange for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. Then he flew to Dallas in the afternoon, with just about enough time to get to the arena, pull on his new jersey and lace up his skates.

``It just felt good to contribute,'' McKay said. ``It boosts your confidence. You don't want to lose your first game with your new team.''

McKay's first key play helped set up a goal by Richard Matvichuk that tied the game at 2. Then, with 17:03 left in the third period, McKay fought off Jeff Finley with one arm and with the other nudged the puck to Kirk Muller, who was wide open in front of the net. He knocked the puck past goalie Brent Johnson for his eighth goal of the season.

``It popped right out in front and it was a good play on his part,'' said Johnson, who stopped 20 shots.

In addition to Arnott, Dallas also was without Jere Lehtinen (ankle) and Pierre Turgeon (back).

``We won with a makeshift lineup,'' Stars captain Derian Hatcher said.

The victory gives Dallas 78 points, tying Phoenix for seventh place and moving within one of St. Louis in the Western Conference.

``It was a frustrating game,'' Blues star Keith Tkachuk said. ``It was the biggest game of the year and we didn't win.''

St. Louis, seeking the 1,200th victory in the franchise's 35-year history, went on a power play with 2:37 left, but failed to score despite several opportunities.

Pavol Demitra started raising his arms in celebration after one shot, then wrapped them around his head when it went wide.

Dallas' Ed Belfour, relieved to make it past the trade deadline without being shipped out, made 23 saves to end an 11-game winless streak (0-8-3) against St. Louis, counting a four-game sweep in last season's playoffs.

Blues defenseman Al MacInnis was frustrated by the game's 18 penalties, including 10 in the second period. Dallas was 1-of-7 on the power play and St. Louis went 1-of-5.

``Referees have to realize that for a lot of the teams it's playoff hockey right now,'' he said. ``They should just let them play and put their whistles away a little more.''

Notes: The Stars ended a two-game losing streak at home and remained unbeaten in their last five. ... Ray Ferraro's goal was his second in as many games since being acquired by the Blues from Atlanta.

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