MacDonald, making a rare start, stopped 37 shots for his second NHL shutout, and Drew Miller and Valtteri Filppula scored first-period goals to lift the Detroit Red Wings past the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Thursday night.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Wings -- and it gave coach Mike Babcock his 300th win with Detroit. Babcock, who took over for the 2005-06 season, is the third NHL coach to win 300 games with a team over a six-season span, joining Scotty Bowman (321 with Montreal) and Glen Sather (307 with Edmonton).
The Wings did all their scoring early. Miller scored 33 seconds into the game and Filppula connected at 11:23.
The rest of the night belonged to MacDonald, who got to play because Babcock gave starter Jimmy Howard the night off after Wednesday's 3-2 win against Washington and backup Chris Osgood still isn't ready to play after sports hernia surgery in January.
"I thought MacDonald was real good," Babcock said. "We scored on the first shift and that line was good all night. Then we relaxed and got a little sloppy. We weren't near as good as we were last night but we found a way to win on the road in back-to-back nights."
MacDonald's only previous NHL shutout came when he blanked Detroit 2-0 in March 2009 while playing for the New York Islanders.
"I felt really good," said MacDonald, who joined the team on Wednesday while Osgood continues to rehab. "The first period they threw a lot of pucks at me. I made a couple of good saves to get me into the game."
MacDonald preserved the shutout with a late goal-line glove save on a shot by Rick Nash that teammate Derick Brassard was trying to jam into the net. The play withstood a video review that determined the puck didn't cross the line.
The Blue Jackets have lost nine of 10.
"We didn't finish," said Nash, who hasn't scored in 11 games. "We had lots of opportunities but again we didn't bear down. It's been tough, the goalies have been playing well, but we've been having chances and letting up a bit."
The Blue Jackets went 0 for 6 on the power play, including a two-man advantage that lasted 43 seconds with about five minutes remaining. The Red Wings have killed 34 of the last 36 chances against them.
"We have more than our share of opportunities to at least get one goal," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said.
Despite outshooting Detroit 14-8 in the first period, sloppy play put the Blue Jackets in an early 2-0 hole.
Darren Helm scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone and snapped a hard shot from the right side on Steve Mason. Mason made the stop, but kicked the puck back to Miller, who one-timed the rebound into an open net for his eighth goal.
"Every game I play in I'm going to assert myself any way I can," said Miller, who has been a healthy scratch in five of 10 games recently as the Wings have gotten healthy.
Mason said allowing a quick goal took a lot of air out of the Jackets.
"You never want to give up a goal in the first minute. It sets you back right off the bat," he said. "They drove the lane and were able to get the rebound and put it in. It was one of those games that is a big game for us and we threw a lot of pucks at Joey (MacDonald) and he played great and he is one of the reasons they won
Filppula made it 2-0 when he scored his 15th goal. With Nash serving a high-sticking penalty, Johan Franzen curled from behind the right side of the net and slotted a cross-crease pass to Filppula, who wristed a shot from the top of the left circle past a leaning Mason.
The Wings now lead the Central Division by eight points over Chicago and are second in the Western Conference -- even after what Babcock said wasn't one of their best efforts.
"We weren't near as good as we were last night (against Washington)," he said. "But we found a way to win on the road in back to back nights so it's a good win for us."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report