GLENDALE, Ariz. --
Mathieu Garon and the Columbus Blue Jackets
turned a "WhiteOut" into a shutout.
The veteran goaltender spoiled the Coyotes' home opener on "Welcome Back WhiteOut" night by stopping all 36 Phoenix shots in the Blue Jackets' 2-0 victory.
The Coyotes spent the summer in bankruptcy court before a judge decided the team wouldn't be sold. They also changed coaches during training camp, but won two of three games on their season-opening road trip and were greeted by a sellout crowd of 17,532 at Jobing.com Arena ready to celebrate the fact the team was still there. The energy was palpable hours before the drop of the puck.
"It was just a great atmosphere the whole night," said forward Scottie Upshall, who was all over the ice in his 20:54 of ice time. "It says a lot about the fans here that so many showed up and continue to support us."
But while the Coyotes and their fans were on a high level, Garon played on a level all of his own. He made Rick Nash
's goal midway through the second period stand up until R.J. Umberger
scored into an empty net with 17 seconds left.
"I knew going into the season he was that good," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said of Garon, who signed during the summer as a free agent. "I don't know if I ever beat him. He's just a solid goaltender."
The Jackets opened the scoring on Nash's goal at 10:36 of the first period, generated off a neutral zone turnover by Coyotes captain Shane Doan
. On the resulting 3-on-1 break, Kristian Huselius
feed Derek Brassard, who found a wide-open Nash at the left post for a tap-in.
''We scored the first goal and took some energy out of them,'' said Garon, who has three career shutouts against Phoenix.
On a night when a Coyotes goal would have blown the roof off, full house went home disappointed because the rest of the game belonged to Garon. He survived seven Phoenix power plays, including a pair of 5-on-3 advantages, and was aided by 15 blocked shots by his defense and 14 missed shots by the overeager Coyotes.
"We need to be better there," Doan said of the power play's failures. "That's two straight games where one goal makes all the difference, and I’ve gotta find a way to put one in."
The Coyotes' best chance to tie the game came with 8:38 remaining in the third period, when Doan received a back-door pass to the right of an open net and redirected the puck off the inside of the far post.
Throughout the night, the fans provided encouragement at any opportunity -- every hit, faceoff win or rush up ice saw them rise to their feet, spin their pom poms, clap their hands and cheer.
The players certainly didn’t miss that fact.
"It’s just a special place here, and these fans really do care," Doan said. "The whole team is just grateful for the people who do support us so passionately."
The biggest eruption came when Adrian Aucoin
shot the puck past Garon during a power play late in the second period -- only to have the goal waved off because a Blue Jacket had touched the puck long enough to bring about a delayed penalty call.
That gave the Coyotes a 5-on-3 advantage -- but Garon kept them off the scoreboard.
''It's too bad we couldn't find something to make them erupt like they wanted to,'' Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. ''I think the players sensed that. We were looking for something to energize them and we didn't get it done.''
Hitchcock, whose team heads home to play Calgary on Tuesday after serving as the guest for three consecutive road openers, was delighted to go home with two wins.
"We were way more competitive," he said when asked to compare his team's performance to their showing in a 6-3 loss at San Jose on Thursday. "We had to be. Phoenix played really well -- they played hard and they got a lot of momentum off those power plays.
"I thought we did some good things -- some good stuff to build on."
--Justin Bourne, NHL.com Correspondent