Johnson, Mason lead CBJ past Coyotes, 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Jack Johnson scored his first goal for Columbus, Steve Mason made 38 saves and the Blue Jackets beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first three-game winning streak in more than a year.
Mason, who struggled all season until recently, has allowed just four goals in two wins over Phoenix and one over Colorado in the last six days.
R.J. Umberger and Derek MacKenzie also scored for the Blue Jackets. Johnson, acquired in the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Los Angeles just before the trade deadline, added an assist.
Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle had goals for Phoenix, which has lost four in a row in regulation, its longest such skid of the season.
The Coyotes have been outscored 14-7 during their slide, which has knocked them out of the lead in the Pacific Division. They started the night in seventh place in Western Conference standings, their margin for error reduced by their recent losses.
Mason had 30 saves in a 5-2 win at Phoenix on Saturday night.
Columbus last won three in a row against Chicago, Nashville and Phoenix from Feb. 18-25, 2011.
The Blue Jackets took their second two-goal lead of the game when MacKenzie converted a wrister from a hard angle early in the second period to make it 3-1.
The Coyotes countered on Yandle's laser beam of a shot from the top of the left circle, tucking the drive just inside the far post and past Mason's outstretched glove.
There were no goals in the third period, but plenty of action. The Coyotes had 20 seconds of 5 on 3 as the Blue Jackets killed all five penalties.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson was stymied on a hard shot gloved by Mason while the Coyotes were short-handed with 7:35 left. Phoenix's Radim Vrbata's chest-high shot stunned Mason in the final seconds, but Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski cleared the puck from the crease.
Mason also made big saves on Shane Doan and Ray Whitney early in the final period.
Just as they had in last week's meeting in the desert, the Blue Jackets broke out to a 2-0 lead -- only this time they did it in less than 5 minutes.
Just 31 seconds in, Umberger settled a high pass by catching it and dropping it on his stick. He then skated past defenseman Michal Rozsival before floating in by himself and beating Mike Smith high on the stick side.
Johnson then benefited from some nifty passing. Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu swept the puck back and forth before Prospal whisked a cross-ice pass to Johnson, who was by himself on the left wing. He skated in and netted a hard shot on Smith's glove side.
That was it for Smith, with coach Dave Tippett summoning Jason LaBarbera to replace him just 4:54 in and after facing only seven shots.
The Coyotes cut the deficit in half when Vermette -- who had played the past three years for the Blue Jackets -- notched his first in a Phoenix sweater. He was traded by Columbus on Feb. 22 for injured goaltender Curtis McElhinney and two draft picks.
On a 2-on-1, Vermette tallied off a pass from Ray Whitney, also a former Blue Jacket.
NOTES: Johnson's goal made him the 30th player to score for the Blue Jackets this season, adding to a franchise record and the most in the NHL this season. ... Phoenix returns home for a pivotal homestand against Minnesota, San Jose and Nashville, all of them also hungry for points. ... D Nikita Nikitin blocked a shot with his foot, played another shift or two, but then did not return for the third period. He had goals in the previous two games for Columbus.