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Bruins dominate possession, beat Columbus

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Bruins backup goalie Chad Johnson did whatever he could to stay involved in Saturday night's game.

He could have read a book.

"I think the last couple of games have kind of been like that; you don't get a lot of action," Johnson said after making just 13 saves as Boston closed November with a 3-1 victory over Columbus that capped a sweep of the three-game season series with the Blue Jackets. "It's tough to not really see any action in my end or any shots, so you just try and stay as mentally sharp as possible and just try and stay into it.

"There wasn't really a whole lot," said Johnson, who improved to 4-1 even though he lost his second career shutout when Ryan Johansen scored on the power play with 13:44 left. "Some scrambles, they were just kinda throwing pucks on the net. Guys did a great job blocking shots and not really letting them generate anything."

Left winger Milan Lucic scored two goals, his team-high 10th and 11th of the season, and the Bruins kept the puck most of the night. They completed an impressive defensive weekend that followed a 6-1 loss at Detroit on Wednesday night.

"We talked about having a good strong game before this little break we have, before the big game on Thursday that we have coming up (in Montreal)," said Lucic, who was in a spirited second-period fight with defenseman Dalton Prout (a draw) and needed an assist for the Bruins' second Gordie Howe hat trick in as many games.

"We ended off on the right note and, other than that Detroit game, it was a pretty good week," he said. "I wish I could have gotten the Gordie, especially after Z (captain Zdeno Chara) did it yesterday."

The Bruins -- who beat the New York Rangers 3-2 Friday, with Chara registering a goal, assist and fight -- finished November 9-4-0 and atop the Eastern Conference.

Center Patrice Bergeron (No. 8) also scored Saturday, and center David Krejci had assists on both Lucic goals, one on the power play.

It was the third multi-point game of the season for Lucic, who leads the Bruins with 20 points. He already has four more goals in 27 games this season than he had in 46 last year. His power-play goal Saturday (the only one on six tries for Boston) was his first of the year, one more than he had last year.

The Blue Jackets, who were 5-8-3 in November, have alternated losses and wins over their last nine games. They were attempting to win back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight Oct. 20-25.

"I think we started out OK in the first period and then they kind of took over after they got their first goal," Jackets center RJ Umbarger said. "I thought we were on our heels a little bit too much.

"We addressed that after the first. We battled and again the penalties -- seven or whatever it was -- you just can't do that against a team like that. They were just peppering us all night with shots from the power play."

Johansen scored his team-high 10th goal and Curtis McElhinney made 33 saves (16-for-16 in the second period) for the Jackets, who were bottled up all night.

"It wasn't flashy. It wasn't where you're going to see six, seven goals," Chara said. "The way we like to play is the way we kind of did the last two games."

The Bruins, who allowed four goals in the three wins over Columbus, are 9-0-2 in their last 11 home games -- their longest home stretch without a regulation loss since a 14-gamer Oct. 25, 2008, through Jan. 1, 2009.

NOTES: Columbus is short-handed offensively. Former Bruins RW Nathan Horton, who signed a huge free-agent deal but has yet to play because of offseason shoulder surgery, is on target for a December return. ... The Jackets, still also missing RW Marian Gaborik (knee) and C Brandon Dubinsky (foot), host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. The Bruins play five of the next six on the road, starting at Montreal on Thursday night -- the first meeting of the season between the two rivals. ... Team USA assistant coach Peter Laviolette was at the game. The Columbus roster is loaded with nine Americans. ... Katie Jablonski, an 11-year-old fan wearing a Milan Lucic No. 17 T-shirt, was hit near the left eye with a puck at Friday's game and wound up in Massachusetts General Hospital for seven stitches. Lucic invited Jablonski to Saturday's morning skate, where many of the players signed her shirt and gave her an autographed stick and a puck.
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