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Blue Jackets 5, Blues 1 @NHLdotcom

ST. LOUIS (AP) -Ken Hitchcock insists any coach could have gotten Columbus out of its early-season slump. He just happened to get the job after the Blue Jackets dismissed Gerard Gallant last month.

"When a coach gets fired and the slate's clean, it's really on the players," he said. "I said before I took the job I thought there was a good spirit. We needed to gain some confidence by getting a couple of wins."

The confidence appears to be building.

Columbus won its third consecutive game Saturday night, beating St. Louis 5-1. Sergei Fedorov had two goals and an assist, and Fredrik Norrena came within a shot of posting his third consecutive shutout.

The Blue Jackets are enjoying their first three-game winning streak of the season and moved two points ahead in the Central Division of St. Louis, which lost its seventh straight. The Blues are last in the NHL with 18 points.

Columbus had won two consecutive games one other time with victories at Chicago and against Phoenix in the second and third games of the season. The Blue Jackets lost six straight before Hitchcock took over on Nov. 22, hours before a 4-3 shootout loss to St. Louis. They dropped three of four before starting this upward streak.

"We were so beat down mentally and this has been a good change for us," said defenseman Adam Foote, who scored his first of the season midway through the second period.

Norrena and fellow goalie Pascal LeClaire have kept the Blue Jackets in every game since Hitchcock took over. They have allowed 13 goals overall and four in five games. All four losses under Hitchcock have come during a shootout or by one goal.

Norrena stopped 24 shots, yielding only Bill Guerin's team-leading 12th goal with about seven minutes left in the second period during a 5-on-3 power play. The goal ended Norrena's team-record shutout streak at 155 minutes, 28 seconds. He blanked Edmonton and Colorado and hadn't allowed a goal since Nov. 25 against Minnesota.

"Things came together," Norrena said. "Now, we score some goals and get the lead, it's been pretty nice to play out there."

Ron Tugnutt set the previous record of 153:58 in March 2001.

St. Louis hasn't won since earning consecutive shootout victories at Columbus and Detroit on Nov. 22-24. The Blues have earned one point during their seven-game slide.

"Good teams are consistent," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We're the furthest thing from consistent, right now."

Fedorov scored his first goal of the night after he flubbed on a shot only to have the puck trickle under the pads of Jason Bacashihua with 26 seconds left in the first period. He got his second of the game and seventh of the season midway through the third.

His assisted on Fredrik Modin's goal with just over three minutes left in the first, helping the Blue Jackets take a 2-0 lead.

Gilbert Brule notched his third with 27 seconds left in the period.

Notes: Columbus also set a team shutout streak by going 166:06 without allowing a goal. The previous mark was 136:13 in 2001. ... St. Louis RW Dallas Drake sat out the first of a two-game suspension. ... The Blue Jackets ended a five-game road trip. They host Ottawa on Sunday before leaving for two more road games. ... Columbus LW Jody Shelley played in his 300th NHL game.

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