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Hitchcock wins in return to Columbus @NHLdotcom
David Backes made sure Ken Hitchcock's return to Columbus was an enjoyable one.

Backes broke a 1-1 tie via the power play 7:49 into the third period to lift the St. Louis Blues past the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 at Nationwide Arena on Sunday night, giving Hitchcock the win in his first game against his former club.

Hitchcock, the winningest coach all-time for Columbus, guided the Blue Jackets to their only playoff berth in 2009 before being fired a season later.

"There's a lot of players on the other side I'm close with," Hitchcock said. "I have a healthy respect for those players because I would say 10 of those guys went through the wall for me."

Kris Russell, who traded from the Blue Jackets earlier this month, also scored to help St. Louis improve to 7-1-2 since Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne on Nov. 6.

Brian Elliott made 23 saves for the Blues to move to 10-1-0 this season.

Derek Dorsett scored, Curtis Sanford made 27 saves -- losing for the first time in six starts -- and Columbus had its five-game points streak snapped.

"It was almost like a playoff game," Sanford said. "It was like a chess match. Their special teams came out on top. That's usually the difference in these games."

Tied 1-all entering the final period, the Blues' League-worst power play came through. T.J. Oshie flicked a backhand pass from the left edge of the crease to a wide-open Backes for his ninth goal of the season. It was St. Louis' first man-advantage tally in six games.

"I thought the goal in the second period helped us a lot," Hitchcock said. "But more than anything the grind that we put on in the third period, we got in on a big body game, and that really helped us."

Columbus had plenty of chances throughout, including a power play of its own just a few minutes later, but a hooking penalty by Fedor Tyutin -- his third minor infraction of the game -- negated the opportunity.

"That was a 200-foot game where you had to battle for every inch," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We had a lot of chances to actually score and we didn’t. They certainly capitalized on a couple of mistakes that we made."

Elliot was steady the rest of the way, stopping Antoine Vermette on a 2-on-1, shorthanded break with just over 5 minutes left. Then with Sanford off for an extra attacker, Elliott blocked Rick Nash's doorstep stab.

In a mostly tight-checking game with little room to maneuver, Dorsett broke in alone, compliments of a Samuel Pahlsson steal at center ice, and beat Elloitt at 5:06 of the second period to put Columbus on the board first.

Later in the period, the Blue Jackets marched up the ice on a 3-on-1 after a miscue by Barret Jackman. Nash slid the puck to Carter, but his shot was blocked by a sprawling Roman Polak.

Skating four aside, Steen shook his coverage and powered around the right side, strong-arming a shot on goal. His rebound off Sanford came to Russell near the crease for the quick putback with 8 seconds remaining in the period.

The best scoring chance of the first period came off the stick of Rick Nash on a semi-breakaway, stopped by Elliott.

"When you lose one and you've got to start over and start a new streak," Arniel said. "You can't let it linger."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
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