Bruins

Horton authors another timely goal to force OT

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Horton authors another timely goal to force OT

BOSTON -- All it took was health to revert Nathan Horton back to his clutch, game-winning ways.

The Bruins right winger racked up his third goal of the season at a perfect time with little more than four minutes to go in the third period, but seems to be a variation on a theme this year. Horton powered the only regulation goal for Boston in a 2-1 shootout win at TD Garden that was gritty, grinding and exactly the kind of heavyweight fight one expects between the Bruins and Devils.

It was the second time this season that Horton banged home the game-tying goal in the last five minutes of the third period after having just three of those total in eight NHL seasons.

The score was a breakthrough for a Bruins team that experienced difficulty finding open offensive space in a heavy game against the quality New Jersey club. True to form Boston's best players kept plugging until something broke for them.

Hortons goal also clinched that the winger has points in four straight games for the Bruins, and holds a very respectable five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in six games on his season ledger with the Black and Gold. The goal started with Krejci dipping deep into the B's defensive zone to lend support to Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg, and then the Bruins center turned up ice with speed.

Krejci hit Lucic with a pass in stride before the puck was dished back to him in the middle, and he found Horton moving to the net. The Bruins right wing pushed the puck between the five-hole opening in Johan Hedberg's for the score Boston had waited nearly 60 minutes to celebrate.

It was a great play by our linemates there, Looch Milan Lucic made a great pass to Krech David Krejci and Krech took everybody and left me wide open, said Horton. I just tried to get it to net, I just fanned on it but then it went in the right place.

I guess I shouldnt say that I actually missed my shot, but I did. It feels great to contribute and help the team, whether its anything, a hit. Im just trying to work hard and do the best I can and not let my teammates down.

Horton hasnt let one person down while playing tough, physical, productive hockey for the Bruins that makes him such a unique blend of physical power and streaky skill. He also had the only two shots on goal for his forward group, meaning both Lucic and Krejci finished without a single shot on net in 65 regulation minutes.

It was also only fitting the forward line of Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic were the ones to make it happen for the Bs in crunch time. After all those are some of the forwards that currently enjoy the multiple-game point streaks, and some have consistently been Bostons best skaters over the first six games.

I said it a million times already, this was a line that had a question mark on them because one guy hadnt played in a year and the other guy didnt play at all during the lockout, said Claude Julien. David Krejci was the only one having played. So being one of our top lines, you want to be able to rely on those guys. We have and theyve certainly given us exactly what we need right now.

It was a breakout shift for all three forwards where each of them touched the puck: Lucic skated it down the left wing side and centered a pass to Krejci streaking up the middle as the two-way center drew the attention of the New Jersey defense. The rush of the lines other two forwards allowed Krejci to feed Horton swooping in through the right face-off circle for the kind of chance a natural goal-scorer feeds on.

Knowing Hortons reputation as a Game 7 playoff hero and the clear evidence over the last six games that hes 100 percent back to his level of play prior to the concussions, there wasnt a question he would bury the shot. He did that just that by burying it between Hedberg's equipment.

With a guy with as much heart and leader on our team like Horty Nathan Horton is, seeing him do well really lifts everybody up, said Tyler Seguin. Hes definitely a true leader, so I think everyone here has a lot of confidence.

The Horton heroics allowed the Bruins to salvage at least a point by earning their way into overtime after trailing for most of the game, and it eventually pushed them to a full two points in the shootout victory.

None of that would have been possible without the help of Horton, who is ably playing the role of late-game hero for the Black and Gold while showing exactly how good he can be with Boston counting upon him.

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

GOLD STAR: It had to feel good for Ryan Spooner. The speedy forward played a great game, finished with the game-winning goal in Claude Julien’s return to Boston and had both four shots on net and four registered hits in 16:07 of ice time. His goal was a level of grit and buy-in that he didn’t always have when Julien was the coach, but it’s one that he’s found more and more since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the B’s bench. Spooner drove the puck straight toward the net, and attempted to throw a pass backdoor to Matt Grzelcyk. But instead the puck bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and ended up in the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. For a player that long struggled under the watchful eye of Julien, Spooner’s night continued a stretch of very strong play since coming back from injury. 

BLACK EYE: Jonathan Drouin was supposed to be a game-changing center for the Canadiens after being moved from Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t even been close to that, or actually being a center, for the Habs this year. Drouin really didn’t bring much of anything on Wednesday night with a couple of shots on net, a giveaway and a 1-for-9 on the draw in his 17:04 of ice time. He was like so many of the other players on the Montreal roster that didn’t show up with their best in a rivalry game between the Bruins and the Habs. Even worse than that they didn’t show up in a game they desperately needed to win if they wanted to stay relevant in the playoff race. With the minus game again on Wednesday, Drouin is also now a minus-20 on the season in what’s been a truly disappointing year. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins bounced back strongly after giving up a goal on the first shift of the game, and really took things over after the fortunate bounce for Jakub Jerabek got the Habs on the board early. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens by a 25-13 margin in the first two periods, dominated play and posted a goal in each of the first two periods to get the B’s on the board. From that point on it was smooth sailing and Boston only needed to collect a couple of insurance goals in the third period to truly seal Montreal’s fate. What was surprising was that the Habs showed little fight or pride while slowly sinking into the mud during the game, and never ever provided any real challenge to the Bruins in a game that was still separated by just a single goal until later in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had one of his better games for the Bruins with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:58 of ice time. It was an empty net goal that rounded out the scoring in the third period, and he finished with four shot attempts, a takeaway and 16-of-20 face-off wins in 15:58 of ice time. In general the Bruins frontline centers absolutely and thoroughly dominated Montreal’s poor excuse for players down the middle of their lineup, and Krejci was a big part of that in helping set up Spooner’s game-winner as well. Krejci was also a player that had his differences of opinion with Julien when he was coaching the Bruins, so the big game for him on Wednesday night also must have felt pretty cathartic when it was all said and done.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games for Tuukka Rask’s current point streak where he’s put together a 13-0-2 record that dates back to his four game benching in the middle of November. He finished with a solid night’s work of 21 saves in the win over the Habs.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We laid an egg.” –Claude Julien said that phrase in both French and English to discuss a truly pathetic performance for his Canadiens team in what should have been an intense Bruins/Habs rivalry game on national television. 

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Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

BOSTON – It was a nice night for Claude Julien in his return to Boston with a well-done video montage and a warm ovation from the still-appreciative Bruins fans. But that’s where it ended for the Habs coach as his hockey club pretty much no-showed for the game and rolled over in a 4-1 win for the Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday night. 

The Canadiens scored the game’s first goal just 31 seconds into the game when a Jakub Jerabek perimeter shot bounced off Zdeno Chara in front and skipped past Tuukka Rask. But it was all Black and Gold after that with David Pastrnak tying things up six minutes later, and the Bruins outshooting the Habs by a 13-7 margin in the second period while extending their lead. 

This time it was Ryan Spooner taking the puck to the net and watching as his centering pass attempt bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and into the net. It was three goals in his last four games for Spooner, who had to feel a pretty big sense of satisfaction at netting the game-winner against a coach he clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye with early in his B’s career. 

Brad Marchand added a necessary power play strike in the third period to give Boston the insurance marker that they needed, but it didn’t really matter against a Canadiens team that was pretty lifeless for long stretches of the game. 

Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and went into lockdown mode after the first goal allowed, but truth be told the Canadiens didn’t have much in the way of quality chances throughout the game. David Krejci added the empty net goal late in the third for icing on the cake in a pretty one-sided affair for a Boston/Montreal rivalry game. 

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