BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Bruins were thinking shut out. What they got was a blowout.

Cam Neely started Boston's five-goal second period, and the Bruins beat NHL Adams Division rival Buffalo 9-0 Tuesday night.

The shutout was the first of the season for Reggie Lemelin and the seventh of his NHL career, moving the Bryuins within three points of the idle Montreal Canadiens.

Neely said the team ''owed'' a shutout to Lemelin, who faced 33 shots.

''Reggie kept us in the first period. We owed him a little bit the rest of the game, to try to get a shutout for him,'' Neely said.

Ken Linseman had two goals for the Bruins, who took 34 shots at Buffalo goaltenders Jacques Cloutier and Daren Puppa.

Geoff Courtnall scored his 16th goal of the season on a breakaway in the first period to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead before the Buffalo defense collapsed.

Neely scored three minutes into the second period, and Jay Miller skated around the Buffalo net before sending the puck between Cloutier's pads for a 3-0 lead.

Linseman made it 4-0, and Steve Kasper and Billy O'Dwyer scored power-play goals while the Sabres' Phil Housley was serving a double-minor for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Rick Middleton, Randy Burridge and Linseman scored third-period goals on Puppa.

Referee Bill McCreary whistled 108 minutes in penalties, 57 to Buffalo and 51 to Boston, including game misconducts to Kevin Maguire and Mike Folino of the Sabres and Reed Larson of the Bruins.

''I don't make a big deal out of a shut out anymore,'' Lemelin said. ''The key of everything is always to win the hockey game and get two points. If you get a shutout it's a bonus. I feel happy because we've been frustrated so much lately.''

The game, the Bruins last in the Boston Garden until Jan. 2., was described by some players as a crucial confidence builder as the team leaves for a four- game road trip.

''We're playing well on the road right now,'' Neely said. ''To get a good win like that before we leave will be a big boost in our confidence. It's good to see everyone get a piece of the pie.''