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Lucic scores twice to power Bruins past Blue Jackets

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins pride themselves on being a near-perfect balance of skill and physicality. In their past two games, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara have found ways to flaunt those two attributes.

Lucic scored twice to help Boston defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at TD Garden on Saturday night. He scored a first-period power-play goal, then fought Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout in the second period.

Lucic capped his big night with a goal at 2:15 of the third period to put the Bruins (18-7-2) ahead 3-0.

Chara recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Friday in a win against the New York Rangers. At first glance, Lucic appeared to get the assist he needed for his own Gordie Howe Hat Trick when Jarome Iginla took a swing at Lucic's shot early in the third period, but Iginla didn't touch the puck and Lucic was credited with his second goal of the night.

"It would've been nice to get the Gordie, especially after [Chara] got it yesterday," said Lucic, who leads the Bruins with 11 goals. "But you're not going to complain with a goal over an assist. Like I said, it was just one of those nights where kind of both goals I had the puck luck on my side and they ended up being big goals."

The Bruins are 6-1-1 in their past eight games. One game after limiting the Rangers to 19 shots on goal, the Bruins surrendered 14 to Columbus.

"Every time we limit shots, it's about having good gaps, interrupting their flow, pressuring them early so they can't really enter the zone with possession," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "And for the most part, we've done that the last few games. And it's all about being more consistent and getting better."

Ryan Johansen scored a power-play goal for Columbus (10-14-3) at 6:16 of the third period to spoil Chad Johnson's shutout bid and cut the lead to 3-1.

Johnson stopped 13 of 14 shots. Columbus goalie Curtis McElhinney finished with 33 saves on 36 shots.

"No, not enough [shots] and not enough quality ones either," Columbus forward RJ Umberger said. "We've got to find a way to generate more. Probably the two things we talked about the most (was) more shots, get 10 a period, and stay disciplined, no penalties, and it didn't seem like we executed either one."

The Blue Jackets were shorthanded six times and allowed one Boston power-play goal.

Patrice Bergeron carried over his hot hand from the Bruins' win Friday against the Rangers, when he snapped an eight-game goalless drought, by scoring the first goal against the Blue Jackets. The center's wrist shot from the right wall eluded McElhinney, who was screened by Loui Eriksson, and settled inside the far post at 9:02.

Twenty-two seconds into the Bruins' first power play, they doubled their lead. Lucic tipped a Torey Krug slap shot past McElhinney at 14:58 of the first period.

After they limited the Rangers to 11 shots during the second and third periods Friday, the Bruins' stinginess continued against Columbus on Saturday, when they carried a 9-2 shots advantage after the first period.

The Bruins outshot the Blue Jackets 16-7 in the second period. But neither team found the back of the net and Boston still led 2-0 heading to the third period.

"We were two steps behind. They were bigger, they were stronger, they were faster," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I think every aspect of the game, if you look at it, they were better than us. We couldn't get the puck stopped in our own zone, and it was too easy in the offensive zone -- the ability to just wash us out of the play and get the puck, and then get it back into our zone."

It was a strange week for the Bruins, as they emerged 3-1-0 despite losing 6-1 on the road against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. In addition to their wins against the Blue Jackets and Rangers, the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins also beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.

"We talked about after the Detroit game, about turning this into a positive week," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "When you take a bad loss, you turn it into a positive thing. And a positive thing is we won three out of four games this week, and that's good. I like the way we've played our last two games, and we've got a bit of a break here, so it's a good time to have that kind of a performance from your team in the last two days. And I liked the way we played tonight again."

The Bruins are off until they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Columbus will host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

The Bruins have won their past six meetings with the Blue Jackets, including all three games this season. Boston and Columbus are done with their season series.

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