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Murray Loses Coaching Debut With Blues

Andy Murray only has to look to Chicago and Columbus to see the impact a new coach can have on a struggling team.

If his debut with the St. Louis Blues was any indication, the winningest coach in Los Angeles Kings history has lots of work to do.

``Discipline has to certainly be a point we address,'' Murray said after a 3-2 home loss to Denis Savard and the revamped Blackhawks.

That would be a start. But the Blues have so far to go after finishing last in the NHL a season ago and falling to the bottom of the standings again this year (7-18-4). Murray signed a long-term contract with St. Louis on Monday to replace the fired Mike Kitchen.

Savard has done wonders for the Blackhawks, going 5-0-3 since he replaced fired coach Trent Yawney. The Blues could use a jump like that after being outscored 22-9 during a six-game losing streak at home.

St. Louis has lost eight straight overall, earning only one point in the standings during the skid.

``I saw some things we did well and some things we need to work on, obviously,'' Murray said ``I saw some great efforts and I saw some players that I think need to give a little bit more.''

Ken Hitchcock has gotten the most out of the Columbus Blue Jackets since he took over for Gerard Gallant on Nov. 22.

The Blue Jackets went into Dallas on Tuesday night and beat the Stars there for the first time in 11 chances (1-9-1). The 3-1 victory stretched Columbus' season-high winning streak to five games and gave the Blue Jackets a 6-3 mark under Hitchcock.

Columbus has outscored opponents 21-4 during the winning streak.

``We didn't give up much,'' Hitchcock said after his first victory over the Stars, 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 our confidence.''

In other NHL games, it was: the New York Rangers 3, Philadelphia 1; Buffalo 3, New Jersey 2; Montreal 4, Boston 3; Ottawa 3, Detroit 2; Anaheim 5, Florida 4; Toronto 5, Tampa Bay 4; Nashville 3, Edmonton 2; Calgary 5, Minnesota 2; Vancouver 5, Phoenix 2; and San Jose 3, Los Angeles 1.

Savard wasn't the only Blackhawks newcomer to make his presence felt.

Five-time All-Star Peter Bondra scored his 499th NHL goal in his first game with Chicago to put a damper on Murray's debut.

Bondra, who had 21 goals and 39 points in 60 games for the Atlanta Thrashers last season, signed with the Blackhawks over the weekend and found the back of the net in his first game of the season.

``There's so much excitement for me the last couple of days,'' Bondra said after his first game. ``I don't even think about the milestone. I was afraid I would change the chemistry of the team, but I guess we took it well.''

Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist in a three-goal, third-period flurry against Marek Schwarz, the Blues' first-round pick in the 2004 draft who made his NHL debut. Schwarz stopped his first 17 shots before the Blackhawks scored three times in a span of four shots over 2:04 early in the period.

Christian Backman had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

Blue Jackets 3, Stars 1

Rookie goalie Fredrik Norrena stopped 25 shots to win his fifth straight start for visiting Columbus. David Vyborny, Dan Fritsche and Jason Chimera scored for the Blue Jackets.

Philippe Boucher scored Dallas' lone goal.

Rangers 3, Flyers 1

Jarkko Immonen and Matt Cullen each had a goal and assist to lead visiting New York to its season-high, fourth straight victory.

Martin Straka extended his point streak to a career-best 11 games by assisting on Michael Nylander's third-period goal for the Rangers. Kevin Weekes, making his second consecutive start for the first time since early November, stopped 15 shots.

R.J. Umberger scored for the Flyers, who dropped their fourth straight game.

Sabres 3, Devils 2

Daniel Briere set up all three Buffalo goals as Buffalo took a comfortable lead and then held on in the final minute to beat host New Jersey.

Jochen Hecht, Maxim Afinogenov and Jason Pominville scored as the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres improved to 14-3 on the road. Ryan Miller got his first win in five decisions against the Devils despite giving up goals to Eric Rasmussen and Brian Gionta 21 seconds apart.

Senators 3, Red Wings 2

At Detroit, Ottawa scored three goals in a span of 5:01 in the second period, two by Jason Spezza, and snapped a three-game losing streak.

Ducks 5, Panthers 4

Chris Pronger snapped a third-period tie with his second goal of the game and Anaheim improved its best start in franchise history. The Ducks, who broke the team record with their sixth consecutive road victory, improved to 24-3-6.

Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 4

Darcy Tucker and Jeff O'Neill scored in the third period and host Toronto stopped a seven-game losing streak.

Canadiens 4, Bruins 3

Sergei Samsonov scored twice and David Aebischer made 31 saves for host Montreal, which has not lost in regulation the last four games (2-0-2).

Andrei Markov and Guillaume Latendresse also scored for the Canadiens.

Predators 3, Oilers 2

David Legwand scored with 2:45 left to lift host Nashville, which has points in 10 straight home games.

Canucks 5, Coyotes 2

Kevin Bieksa and Jan Bulis scored 51 seconds apart midway through a four-goal first period for host Vancouver.

Brendan Morrison and Mattias Ohlund also scored in the opening period for the Canucks, who have 12 goals in three games after scoring only five in the previous six contests.

Sharks 3, Kings 1

Joe Pavelski scored two goals and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 36 shots for visiting San Jose. Two of the Sharks' three goals came on the power play, rated second-best in the NHL. They have won three in a row and eight of 10.

Flames 5, Wild 2

Jarome Iginla had two goals and two assists, and Calgary earned its franchise-record 10th straight home victory.

Pascal Dupuis and Todd White scored for Minnesota, which has lost five in a row away from home.
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