Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) celebrates a goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-US PRESSWIRE
R.J. Umberger and Derek MacKenzie scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won three consecutive games for the first time this year. Steve Mason was spectacular in net, stopping 38-of-40 shots in the victory.
"I thought we competed and battled hard," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "It was a good hard-fought win against a really good and desperate hockey team."
Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle scored for the Coyotes, who have dropped four straight contests. Mike Smith got the start in net for Phoenix and was pulled after giving up two goals on just seven shots. Jason LaBarbera stopped 24-of-25 in relief.
Columbus wasted no time taking the lead, lighting the lamp just 31 seconds into the contest.
Umberger knocked down a bouncing puck with his glove in the neutral zone and it fell right on his tape as he gained the offensive blue line. He went wide to the left circle and fired a quick wrist shot through the legs of Smith.
The Jackets took a 2-0 lead at 3:54 of the first frame after Johnson took a feed from Vinny Prospal and beat Smith with a wrister from the high slot, ending the netminder's night.
Phoenix got one back at 11:57 of the first frame after Vermette went in on a 2-on-1 with Ray Whitney. Whitney glided to the right circle and fed it across to Vermette, who buried it in behind Mason.
Columbus made it 3-1 3:02 into the second period after Derek Dorsett ripped a snap shot that was stopped by LaBarbera, but the rebound caromed out to MacKenzie, who roofed it from the bottom of the right circle.
Pyatt slowed down and dropped it back to Yandle, who was trailing the play on the right wing. Yandle then ripped a rocket slap shot from the right circle that beat Mason high over the right shoulder.
Mason stood tall in the third period, stopping 13 shots to preserve the win for his team.
"A few things aren't going our way right now," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "We have to keep our head above water, get back at it and find a way to get a win."
Columbus improved to 16-21-6 all-time against Phoenix, including a 10-10-2 mark at Nationwide Arena...The Blue Jackets have won four of the last five meetings between the teams...Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury...The Blue Jackets scored the first goal of the game for the 30th time this season. The club is now 15-11-4 in those games...Phoenix failed to score on five power-play chances, while Columbus went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.