TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Marc Denis made sure Gerard Gallant's coaching debut was a success.
Denis made 37 saves to help Columbus beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Friday in Gallant's first game as the Blue Jackets' interim head coach.
"From 11 o'clock yesterday morning until before the puck dropped, I was nervous," Gallant said. "I was butterflied and I was a little scared. It was really good to get the puck dropped and get the game going because that's what I enjoy most about hockey is the game itself and it went real well."
Gallant, who was an assistant under Doug MacLean, took over the team Thursday when MacLean -- the team's president and general manager -- stepped down as coach.
"With everything that's happened around our team the last couple of days, this was a great way to start something new," Denis said. "Obviously it's not the whole battle -- there's a long way to go -- but you've got to start somewhere.
"We said we'd make yesterday Day 1 with a change behind our bench and hopefully we'll have a different philosophy and a different feeling about this group."
Rostislav Klesla scored his first goal in 35 games for Columbus, and Manny Malhotra added an empty-net goal with 1:10 left. The Blue Jackets won their second consecutive road game after starting the season 0-11-1-2 away from home.
"We've been struggling to get some wins," Klesla said. "It was good to get a goal for the win. It was good for the coach and for the team."
The Blue Jackets are 3-11-1-2 in their last 17 games.
Denis finished with his third shutout of the season and 12th of his career after losing his previous seven decisions. His best save came midway through the second period when he gloved Vincent Lecavalier's point-blank shot off a rebound.
"It's very frustrating," Lecavalier said. "I thought we were pretty dominate the whole time. Their goalie probably played one of the best games of his season. What can you do?"
John Grahame made 13 saves for Tampa Bay, 4-12-4 in its past 20 games. He shut out Columbus in his previous two starts against the Blue Jackets.
Klesla opened the scoring with 2:58 left in the second, beating Grahame with a backhand shot.
The goal came after Grahame dropped a puck that was lifted softly from the neutral zone toward the goal. Trevor Letowski picked up the loose puck and made a pass from behind the net that hit Todd Marchant in the skate and deflected to Klesla.
"It was completely my fault," Grahame said. "I caught the puck. When I dropped my hand, I didn't squeeze hard enough and it just came out. There's no excuse. Obviously it cost us."
|Rostislav Klesla (1) ASST: Todd Marchant (15), Trevor Letowski (7)|
1 - 0 CBJ
|EN - Manny Malhotra (5) ASST: Trevor Letowski (8), Todd Marchant (16)|
2 - 0 CBJ
|Pavel Kubina Tripping|
|Scott Lachance Holding the stick|