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Jackets Win Hitchcock's Home Debut

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Sergei Fedorov had two goals and two assists to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Minnesota Wild 5-3 Saturday night, ending an eight-game losing skid and handing Ken Hitchcock his first win as coach.

Hitchcock, 408-249-100 in stints with the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers, was hired Wednesday to replace the fired Gerard Gallant.

The biggest cheer of the pregame lineup announcements came when Hitchcock was introduced. Hitchcock's first game behind the Columbus bench was a 3-2 loss Friday at Philadelphia, which had fired him after the Flyers got off to a 1-6-1-0 start.

Anson Carter added a goal and two assists and Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist to lead Blue Jackets to match their season high in goals. They came in with the lowest goal total (45) by far in the NHL. Fredrik Modin also scored for Columbus.

Goaltender Fredrik Norrena had 19 saves to pick up his first NHL win.

Pascal Dupuis, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Stephane Veilleux scored for the Wild.

With the score tied 2-2 early in the final period, the Blue Jackets ran off the next three goals.

Zherdev took a pass from Carter and swooped in on Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez, but skated around the net and slid a centering pass off the side of the cage to Fedorov for a hard shot he netted at the 3:24 mark.

Just under 2½ minutes later, Carter flicked a pass from behind the goal line to Zherdev, who scored his sixth with a quick wrister.

Fedorov picked up his second with some help from the Wild. His pass from the left wing went off defenseman Nick Schultz and then ricocheted off the stick of defenseman Kim Johnsson into the net for his fifth of the year.

The Blue Jackets scored first and led after the opening period -- the first time they've done either of those things since their last win at home Nov. 3 against Calgary.

Just 3:24 in, Fedorov slid a pass to Carter, who partially whiffed but slipped the puck past goaltender Niklas Backstrom for only the second goal in his last 19 games.

Twenty-two seconds later, on the Wild's first shot, Dupuis scored a goal for the fourth game in a row. His shot from the high slot sneaked under the left leg pad of Norrena for his sixth of the year.

Late in the period, Fedorov skated under control between the circles for a shot and Backstrom deflected it to the corner. From a hard angle, Modin dug the puck out and snapped it past Backstrom for his sixth goal.

Bouchard notched his fifth on the power play 1:08 into the final period to tie it 2-2, thanks to some sloppy puck-handling by the Blue Jackets. Fedorov backhanded a pass in his own defensive zone into the slot for David Vyborny, but the puck hit Vyborny in the skate. Bouchard pounced on the puck and scored on a quick shot.

Game notes
In Norrena's last three starts, the Blue Jackets only scored one goal -- and it came with 15 seconds left in a loss. ... Backstrom was replaced by Manny Fernandez at the start of the second period. ... The Wild were completing a stretch of four games in six days.

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