McElhinney's shutout leads CBJ past Wild, 4-0
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and R.J. Umberger scored and Curtis McElhinney posted his first shutout since 2011 in leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
It was the Blue Jackets' second win in a row, the first time they've won back-to-back games since Oct. 25.
They did it in their first game without last year's Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who will miss the next month or so with a strained groin.
McElhinney made 20 saves in his first shutout since Feb. 5, 2011, while with the Anaheim Ducks.
Foligno and Umberger each also had assists and Ryan Johansen added two assists to stretch his points streak to four games.
The Blue Jackets have been struggling with injuries.
In addition to Bobrovsky, top offensive threat Marian Gaborik (sprained knee) is out for another two weeks and top offseason free-agent signing Nathan Horton (shoulder surgery) has yet to play in a Columbus sweater and likely won't be ready for at least another month.
McElhinney's third NHL shutout came in his 78th game.
After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jackets took over.
At the 1:17 mark of the second, Atkinson took a pass from Dubinsky and wristed a shot from the top of the right circle that Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom didn't appear to see. He barely moved as the puck beat him high and near his right shoulder.
The Blue Jackets went on their first power play when Matt Cooke went off for hooking. Columbus soon took advantage on the man advantage.
Johansen passed to Umberger for a shot from a hard angle that handcuffed Backstrom, with Johansen then following the puck to get a whack at it on the rebound.
Before the puck could be cleared, Foligno found the net on his second attempt from the right doorstep at the 5:40 mark.
Soon after, the Wild had a prime chance to get back in the game.
After Artem Anisimov went off for hooking, Dubinsky was whistled for a slash, giving Minnesota a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:13.
Columbus' Derek MacKenzie, playing for the first time after missing five games with a back injury, collected a loose puck and skated up the right wing before Backstrom deflected his shot with the Blue Jackets still two men down.
The Wild did recover to squeeze off a couple of good shots on the power play, with McElhinney smothering a hard slap shot from the left point by Jason Pominville and then later appearing to stop a high shot by Zach Parise off his mask.
The last few minutes of the second period were chippy with Umberger - playing his 400th game for the Blue Jackets and the 628th of his career - in the middle of a couple of scraps.
He was called for boarding after smashing Jonas Brodin into the corner, but that was offset when Ryan Suter roughed Umberger.
After that 4-on-4 ended, Keith Ballard got 2 minutes for high-sticking Umberger but the Blue Jacket responded by roughing Ballard.
Columbus was still controlling the play early in the third when, on a 3-on-3 rush, Jenner wristed a shot from the top of the left circle that eluded Backstrom high on his glove side. The goal, at the 4:38 mark, was the rookie's third of the season.
Umberger closed the scoring at the 9:05 mark when, while trailing the play, he benefited from a nifty feed from Foligno. Foligno had only one defender to beat but instead whipped a blind pass to Umberger who had virtually an empty net.
Notes: The Blue Jackets improved to 35-0 under coach Todd Richards when leading after two periods. ... The Wild were coming off a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Chicago on Thursday night for their first home win over the Blackhawks since 2008. ... The teams were both 5-4-1 over their past 10 games, had almost identical stats on the power play and penalty kill and were each giving up 2.4 goals a game. ... It was the Wild's third loss in a row on the road. ... It was the second consecutive shutout for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky had 18 saves before being injured and McElhinney had eight saves in a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. ... Minnesota has been shut out in two of its past three games.
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