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Associated Press
11/22/2006 10:30:36 PM


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - In a game featuring bottom feeders riding frustrating losing streaks, St. Louis skated away a winner.

Bill Guerin scored the only goal in the shootout and the Blues rallied to beat Columbus 4-3 Wednesday night in the Blue Jackets' final game before Ken Hitchcock takes over as coach.

''He's a patient goalie and waited, too,'' Guerin said of his winner against Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire, which ended St. Louis' three-game slide. ''They can only back up so much.''

As a team, the Blue Jackets, losers of a season-high seven straight, have nearly backed themselves out of playoff contention. They are hoping a new coach can salvage their season.

Hitchcock's hiring was announced by team president and general manager Doug MacLean shortly before the Blue Jackets took the ice to face the Blues.

''I've got to believe that nobody is throwing in the towel,'' MacLean said during the first intermission. ''I know I'm not and I guarantee you Ken Hitchcock isn't, and I hope nobody in our dressing room is.''

Hitchcock, whose Dallas team won the Stanley Cup in 1999, will make his debut Friday afternoon at Philadelphia against his former team. The Flyers fired him last month after the team's 1-6-1 start.

St. Louis goalie Manny Legace stopped all four shootout shots he faced, including a glove save on Manny Malhotra's last attempt.

''This is huge,'' said Legace who finished with 29 saves. ''We need to get back on a roll. We battled back and I thought the guys played phenomenal tonight all-around.''

Jamal Mayers had two goals, including the tying score with 2:18 remaining, and an assist for St. Louis, which also broke a five-game road skid. Ryan Johnson also scored and Barret Jackman finished with two assists.

''I'm happy to be able to chip in,'' Mayers said of his career-high three points. ''We got the win and we needed it.''

Fredrik Modin and Nikolai Zherdev each had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has the fewest points (12) in the league. Rostislav Klesla also scored and David Vyborny added two assists.

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