DALLAS (AP) -- Ken Hitchcock has quickly turned the struggling
Columbus Blue Jackets into the NHL's hottest team.
The Blue Jackets are 6-3 since Hitchcock replaced fired coach
Gerard Gallant on Nov. 22 and have outscored opponents 21-4 during
the winning streak.
"We didn't give up much," Hitchcock said after Columbus beat
the team he led to its only Stanley Cup championship in 1999. "To
come in here and beat a quality opponent like Dallas really lifts
Hitchcock, fired by the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this season,
had his greatest success with Dallas -- amassing the most coaching
victories in team history during his tenure from 1996-2002. He
earned a tie with Philadelphia in December 2003 in his only other
coaching appearance in Dallas since the Stars let him go.
"That first year with Philadelphia, there was more emotion
because there was more of a connection to the players and staff
from the 1999 team," Hitchcock said. "But time has passed. I'm
really focused now on helping [the Blue Jackets]."
Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who played for Hitchcock in
Dallas, said the Blue Jackets are playing typical Hitchcock hockey.
"They clog it up pretty good," Morrow said. "They're an
aggressive team. He's a mastermind at that. If somebody's going to
find a way to keep the puck out of the net in the new NHL, it's
going to be Hitch."
Columbus won in Dallas for the first time in franchise history.
The Blue Jackets were 0-9-1 in their first 10 visits to Texas.
Norrena, a 33-year-old rookie, won his fifth straight start and
has allowed two goals in his last four games, all on the road.
"We've been playing smart since [Hitchcock] took over,"
Norrena said. "He's done a terrific job. We've been close in every
game. We're a lot more organized."
"Those things can't be in my game," Turco said. "Usually I
make things look easy. Tonight I made it look difficult."
Jason Chimera added his fifth goal of the season with 6:20 left
to stretch Columbus' lead to 3-1.
Vyborny notched his fifth, unassisted except for Turco's
Turco skated out to the middle of the left circle to handle the
puck, but lost control to Vyborny, who went in alone and tucked a
shot into an open net before Dallas' Stephane Robidas could block
it at 4:26 of the second period.
Dallas came up empty on its first seven power plays, but
Philippe Boucher tied the game at 1 at 7:34 of the third period on
a one-timer from beyond the left circle while the Stars held a man
Columbus went back in front 2-1 only 40 seconds later. Turco had
just made a glove save, but the puck dropped out of his glove and
onto the ice. Fritsche pounced on the loose puck and knocked in his
sixth goal of the season.
"I was trying to catch it, and it hit me in the palm," Turco
said. "I grab 100 pucks a day like that. The guys need for me to
field it. It was a depressing goal after fighting so hard to get
[the tying] goal."
Before the game a moment of silence was observed for Laura
Gainey, daughter of former Stars coach and general manager Bob
Gainey. Laura Gainey, 25, was swept off the deck of a Nova Scotia
ship during an Atlantic storm last Friday night and was lost at
sea. Bob Gainey is now the GM of the Montreal Canadiens. ...
Lindros, who had missed four games due to a foot injury, was in the
penalty box twice in the game's first 11:02. ... Columbus'
franchise-best winning streak is six games.