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Blues clear out Kitchen

The St. Louis Blues, last in the NHL standings again despite a change in ownership and several player upgrades, fired coach Mike Kitchen last night and replaced him with former Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray.

Blues president John Davidson told the Associated Press that Murray received a long-term contract after negotiations in New York Sunday. Murray was fired by the Kings last March.

"We realize we're a team that's got a long way to go," Davidson said. "We just felt we needed to take a step like this to move forward."

Davidson said he wants Kitchen, hired on an interim basis in February 2004 when Joel Quenneville was fired, to stay with the organization. But he said it was time to make a change.

The Blues were 21-46-15 last season, in Kitchen's only full campaign as head coach, finishing with an NHL-low 57 points and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1979.

"You look at this thing and we realize we're a team that's trying to rebuild," Davidson said. "We just want more, that's all. We'll see where it goes with Andy."

The Blues are 7-17-4 with 18 points this season and have lost seven in a row. Davidson said Murray will be on the bench tonight at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Penguins 5, Capitals 4 -- The ballyhooed matchup of last season's top two rookies, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, lived up to the hype, but this year's leading rookie was the star.

Evgeni Malkin notched a goal and assisted on one by Crosby in regulation, then scored the decisive tally in the shootout as Pittsburgh erased a four-goal deficit and beat Ovechkin and host Washington.

Erik Christensen also scored in the shootout for Pittsburgh. Chris Clark had two goals and two assists for the Capitals.

Avalanche 5, Hurricanes 2 -- John-Michael Liles and Joe Sakic scored power-play goals in the third period as host Colorado improved to 11-0-3 in its last 14 meetings with Carolina.

Sharks 4, Coyotes 0 -- Vesa Toskala stopped 23 shots for his third shutout this season, and Joe Pavelski scored for the fifth time in nine games to lift host San Jose to its first win over Phoenix at home in nearly three years.

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