BRUINS 4, BLUE JACKETS 0
Jackets suit Bruins fine
Four-goal first makes it early evening
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Glen Murray left here with two goals and a slightly groggy noggin. Felix Potvin (24 saves) departed with his second shutout of the season. And the Bruins packed up with a 4-0 victory, their third straight triumph, and the eighth straight game in which they've picked up at least 1 point in the standings.
"We played super, from the second we stepped on the ice," said Bruins captain Joe Thornton, who picked up a pair of assists in the whitewashing of the Blue Jackets before a sellout crowd of 18,136 at Nationwide Arena. "We got on 'em early, and that makes it a different game."
Early was Dan McGillis's first goal of the season at 5:09 of the first period. Early was a 4-0 lead by 18:23 of the first for an insurmountable margin that was Boston's greatest first-period output of the season. Plagued by slow starts the first three weeks of the season, the Bruins of late have shown much better jump out of the gate, and they were merciless in their early pouncing of the Blue Jackets.
"We haven't had a chance to play with a lead a lot this season," said McGillis, who potted the 1-0 lead after a clever trade of passes with fellow defenseman Ian Moran. "We'll have to get used to it if we want to win a lot of games this season."
With 13 of a possible 16 points banked across the last eight games, the Bruins took over sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead with the win. They also tied the Canucks, who visit Causeway Street tonight (7 o'clock), for first place in the overall standings with 23 points.
Murray, who left with a set of rubber legs after being knocked to the ice by a Luke Richardson elbow late in the second period, did not play the rest of the night. The strapping right wing, who potted the club's second and fourth goals, said he did not suffer a concussion. According to coach Mike Sullivan, trainer Don Del Negro made the suggestion that Murray sit out the rest of the night as a precautionary measure.
"I'm all right," said Murray, who scored on two of his four shots before departing via Woozy Street. "I got caught with my head down and he gave me a pretty good pop." He added that there is no doubt that he will play tonight against the Canucks.
Murray's first goal, for the 2-0 lead, came on a power play with 6:46 gone in the second. Set up with a Thornton feed, he ripped home a wrister from the faceoff dot in the left circle, Columbus netminder Marc Denis slow to cover the far side. Murray's second strike, following Brian Rolston's score, came with 1:37 left after he initially missed on another Thornton setup near the right post. Down on the ice after being upended, Murray just managed a tip of the puck after Jeff Jillson (two assists) slipped down from the blue line and provided a shovel from the slot.
"Yeah, two goals -- it's about time, isn't it?" said Murray. "And it went right off my rear end -- I guess that's why it's so big."
The Bruins now haven't lost a game within the regulation 60 minutes since their 2-0 rubout at the hands of the Hurricanes Oct. 23. Potvin now has two shutouts this year, and Sullivan hinted going into the weekend that his starter here also could be between the pipes tonight on FleetStreet. Potvin, prior to playing in Los Angeles, spent parts of two seasons with the Canucks.
"Lately is the best I've played in a while," said Potvin, who improved his record to 4-2-2, "and I was just looking to continue on that note."
The first period proved to be a game within a game, a game that was all Bruins, all the time. They outshot the hosts, 14-3, in the first 20 minutes, and were in command of a 20-8 shot margin at one point in the second. The game ostensibly over, the Bruins could have used the first intermission to review Vancouver game tapes in anticipation of tonight's matchup of early-season heavyweights.
"I think they were sleeping a little bit in the first period and we took advantage of it," said Sullivan. "We were moving the puck fast and making good decisions with it."
Absent any realistic chance of catching up, the Jackets yanked Denis (once Patrick Roy's backup in Colorado) in favor of Fred Brathwaite to start the second. Steady Freddy was 13 for 13 on stops, but never saw anything like the killer shot selection that his partner faced in the first period.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.