Rookie goalie Fredrik Norrena stopped 25 shots, and the Blue Jackets stretched their season-high winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. 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 our confidence."
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."
David Vyborny and Dan Fritsche scored for Columbus after misplays by Dallas' Marty Turco, usually one of the best puck-handling goalies.
"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 puck-handling gaffe.
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 advantage.
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."
The Stars were without top scorer Mike Modano (hip flexor/groin injury), but forwards Morrow, Eric Lindros and Antti Miettinen returned from injuries.
Notes: 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.