Glendale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Nathan Horton lit the lamp in his long- awaited Blue Jackets debut and Curtis McElhinney stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the season as Columbus clipped the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-0, on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena.
Columbus signed Horton to a seven-year, $37.1 million contract in July, but the 28-year-old forward underwent shoulder surgery not long after inking the deal, causing him to miss the Blue Jackets' first 40 games this season.
R.J. Umberger registered Columbus' other goal, while McElhinney turned aside a whopping 21 shots in the final frame to help the Blue Jackets hang on for their fourth victory in six tries.
"He was disappointed after the last game," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said of McElhinney, who gave up five goals on 23 shots his last time out. "It was a great response from him."
Mike Smith allowed both goals on 31 shots for the Coyotes, who had a six-game point streak halted.
"It was one of those games that was all about execution and we didn't execute like we needed to," Smith admitted. "It cost us the game."
Horton broke the scoreless deadlock late in the second period after Smith was whistled for delay of game at the 14:55 mark of the stanza.
With Columbus skating on the man-advantage, James Wisniewski one-timed a blast from the left circle that Smith padded away, but Horton was there on the doorstep to pound home the rebound for a 1-0 lead at 15:51.
Umberger doubled the spread with another power-play marker near the midpoint of the third, as he picked up a rebound in between the circles and buried the puck into the back of the net to make it 2-0 at 10:03.
Phoenix peppered McElhinney with shot after shot throughout the final frame, but the 30-year netminder turned aside all comers to keep Columbus in front and secure his fourth career shutout.