That was enough of a cushion to withstand a surge in the third period by the Blue Jackets, thanks to a little luck and the play of backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson, who is 4-1-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .947 save percentage after stopping 32 of 34 shots.
"What Mike is doing is shortening the interval," between starts, Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.
"You're always hoping to get more starts, but the most important thing right now is the team winning," Hutchinson said. "I'm feeling really good about where my game is right now. I'm reading the plays really good right now."
Evander Kane scored his fourth goal of the season, into an empty net, on the power play with 18 seconds for the Jets (11-9-3), who ended a two-game losing streak.
The Blue Jackets (6-13-2) have lost four straight and have two wins in the past 15 games. The talk afterward was still one of hope based on a third-period surge that almost pulled Columbus even.
"There's a lot of things we can look at and build from but we're just not good enough right now," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said.
Columbus got a goal each from Jordan Leopold and Johansen, whose score with 10:13 remaining drew the Blue Jackets within 3-2.
The Blue Jackets nearly tied the score two minutes later when a carom off the end boards came out front to Artem Anisimov at the right post, but he was unable to push the puck across the goal line.
Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson hit the crossbar with 2:08 left, the third time Columbus hit the post.
"It's obviously frustrating," Blue Jackets forward Brian Gibbons said. "These are games we need to win. [Johansen] made a great play to cut it to one goal. I had a chance, a couple of other guys had chances. Those are pucks if we want to win, we have to put in the net."
"We hit the post but those don't count as goals," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "The third period we generated some chances. There was some positive energy in the building. We built some momentum on the bench. There was a different feel to the third period than the first two. The big difference than the first two is we came out with our legs and went after them."
But it was too late. Winnipeg took control with the quick goals in the second.
The game changed in its favor during a two-man advantage for Columbus when Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell was called for goalie interference.
Winnipeg killed the remainder of the 5-on-4, the play went to 4-on-4 briefly, and shortly thereafter, while the Jets had the man-advantage, Dustin Byfuglien put a perfect centering pass at the goal mouth for the easy redirect by Kane at 16:25.
"Four-on-4 we worked them pretty good," Kane said. "They got tired and we were able to get the extra man out there."
Richards agreed the Blue Jackets were caught in a bad spot.
"They were opportunistic," he said. "On the power-play goal we got caught on a long shift."
It was Winnipeg's first power-play goal in 26 tries.
"Power play's on fire," Maurice said jokingly. "It was a little disjoined because of the 4-on-4 coming to a 5-on-4. You've got to start somewhere with your power play."
Winnipeg went ahead 3-1 at 16:56 during a delayed penalty with a shot by Ladd from the left circle that Bobrovsky could not see because of the bodies in front of him. Blake Wheeler got his second assist of the game on the eighth goal for Ladd.
"The second period was our best period" Kane said. "We battled hard and stuck with it."
The first wasn't bad either. Little's goal was one second slower than the Jets' record. Columbus tied it at 3:42 on Leopold's power play-goal.
"I really felt even leading up to the game we were ready," Richards said. "That first goal set us back and put us on our heels. We were able to score on the power play, so it was a 1-1 game. But if you look at skating, playing, moving forward, I don't think we did that till the third period."