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Phoenix
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Columbus
Blue Jackets

40 SOG
32 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
PHX
CBJ
game recap

Blue Jackets hold off slumping Coyotes for 3-2 win

Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 10:02 PM

NHL.com

Three Stars of the Game
Jack Johnson
1st
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 3
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 27:32
Steve Mason
2nd
SA: 40TOI: 60:00
GA: 2EV: 33-35
PIM: 0PP: 4-4
SV%: .950SH: 1-1
Derek MacKenzie
3rd
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 13:40
February was a month the Phoenix Coyotes will remember for a long time. So far, March is one they'd like to forget.

The Coyotes, an NHL-best 11-0-1 last month, dropped to 0-4-0 in March by losing 3-2 to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Tuesday night. Newcomer Jack Johnson had a goal and an assist as the Jackets won their season-high third in a row.  Steve Mason won his third straight by stopping 38 shots; he's allowed just four goals in beating Phoenix twice and Colorado once.

Phoenix, which has been outscored 14-7 during its slide, started the night seventh in the West with 75 points. The Coyotes' longest losing streak of the season has dropped them out of the lead in the Pacific Division.

"Obviously things are not going our way right now," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We have to get back at it and find a way to get a win."

The Blue Jackets have lost a League-high six games in regulation after taking a lead into the third period, but Mason stopped all 13 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He made big saves on Shane Doan and Ray Whitney early in the period, got his glove on a shorthanded blast by Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 7:35 to play and was stunned by Radim Vrbata's chest-high shot in the final seconds but defenseman James Wisniewski cleared the puck out of the crease.

Columbus interim coach Todd Richards said the team has relaxed following last Monday's trade deadline.

"I had talked to you leading up to the trade deadline, and was asked, 'Is the room tense?' My response was, 'Everything's good.' But seeing the way we're playing now, I think that had a big effect on us," he said. "Guys seem more relaxed, seem to be enjoying the game, enjoying being around each other. So the morale is good."

The fact that Mason is playing his best hockey of the season has made a big difference. He beat the Coyotes for the second time in four days after blanking the Avalanche in Colorado.

"I'm feeling really good," Mason said. "I'm treating it as a fresh start. The guys are working really hard. The games right now are becoming fun to play in. The guys are playing competitively. You can see it's just a lot more fun atmosphere."

The Blue Jackets led 2-0 less than four minutes into the game, as Johnson set up a goal by R.J. Umberger 31 seconds after the opening faceoff and scored at 3:54 -- his first since coming to Columbus on Feb. 23 in the Jeff Carter trade. Umberger dropped a high pass onto his stick, beat defenseman Michal Rozsival and fired high past Mike Smith's stick.

Johnson made it 2-0 by beating Smith to the glove side from well inside the left circle after a slick cross-ice pass from Vinny Prospal.
"Vinny made a great pass to me," said Johnson, who became the 30th Columbus player to score a goal this season. "I had plenty of time to walk into it."

The Coyotes have trailed at least 2-0 in all four losses this month.

"The last three or four games it's been awful," Doan said of his team's poor starts. "That's gone on before but we managed ways to overcome it. The last three, four games, it's been dreadful."
 
Tippett changed goalies after Johnson's goal, replacing Smith with Jason LaBarbera, and the change appeared to inspire the Coyotes. Antoine Vermette, acquired by Phoenix from Columbus on Feb. 22, got his first goal with his new team by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Whitney at 11:57.

The Blue Jackets regained their two-goal lead when Derek MacKenzie beat LaBarbera with a bad-angled wrister 3:02 into the second period.
 
Tippett protested that Dorsett had interfered with LaBarbera, but the goal stood.

"It's just a poor call. It's unfortunate that goal ends up being the winning goal, but ultimately it's our start that doomed us," Tippett said. "It's a blatant goalie interference -- but that being said, we can't go down 2-0 early in games and be expecting to come back."

Phoenix closed the gap to one goal on a rocket from the top of the left circle by defenseman Keith Yandle, who fired just past Mason's glove and inside the far post at 16:26.

"The start of the game is what cost us," Doan said. "That's on us."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.
scoring summary
1st Period
00:31
CBJ
RJ Umberger (11) Snap shot - ASST: Derick Brassard (19), Jack Johnson (18)
1 - 0 CBJ
03:54
CBJ
Jack Johnson (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (31), Mark Letestu (9)
2 - 0 CBJ
11:57
PHX
Antoine Vermette (9) Snap shot - ASST: Ray Whitney (40), Shane Doan (21)
2 - 1 CBJ
2nd Period
03:02
CBJ
Derek MacKenzie (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Derek Dorsett (6), Colton Gillies (5)
3 - 1 CBJ
16:26
PHX
Keith Yandle (9) Slapshot - ASST: Taylor Pyatt (8), Mikkel Boedker (11)
3 - 2 CBJ
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
05:42
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Fighting (maj) against  Taylor Pyatt
05:42
PHX
Taylor Pyatt  Fighting (maj) against  Derek Dorsett
05:42
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Roughing against  Taylor Pyatt
16:57
CBJ
Derick Brassard  Hi-sticking against  Daymond Langkow
18:44
PHX
Raffi Torres  Holding against  John Moore
2nd Period
17:30
PHX
Adrian Aucoin  Tripping against  Darryl Boyce
17:51
CBJ
Cam Atkinson  Interference on goalkeeper against  Jason LaBarbera
20:00
PHX
Martin Hanzal  Hi-sticking against  Ryan Russell
20:00
CBJ
Ryan Russell  Slashing against  Martin Hanzal
3rd Period
01:38
CBJ
Fedor Tyutin  Tripping against  Ray Whitney
03:18
CBJ
Aaron Johnson  Hooking against  Shane Doan
11:16
PHX
Martin Hanzal  Interference against  Derek MacKenzie
goalie stats
Jason LaBarbera
SA: 25TOI: 54:39
Saves: 24EV: 15 - 16
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 6
SV%: .960SH: 3 - 3
Mike Smith
SA: 7TOI: 3:54
Saves: 5EV: 5 - 7
PIM: 0PP: 0 - 0
SV%: .714SH: 0 - 0
Steve Mason
SA: 40TOI: 60:00
Saves: 38EV: 33 - 35
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .950SH: 1 - 1