Bruins

Horton has career night with store-bought stick

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Horton has career night with store-bought stick

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Nathan Horton has officially re-invented the phrase "whatever it takes."

Mired in a 20-game slump in which he scored only one goal, the Bruins' top-line winger needed to do something drastic in order to start putting pucks in the net once again.

During the All-Star break, Horton walked into a local New-England area sports store, and purchased several brand-new Easton sticks. He told store managers that he was buying them for a friend.

He lied. But, hey, whatever it takes.

Entering Wednesday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens, Horton had a goal and an assist in his last three games since returning from the All-Star break. He continued his resurgence with an exclamation point against the rival Habs on Wednesday, putting up a career-high five points on a goal and four assists, while leading the Bruins to a wild 8-6 win.

Afterwards, Horton revealed information on his new, self-purchased weapon of choice, which still has the price tag on it.

"I used a different stick tonight, maybe that was it," said Horton with a smile.

Maybe. And if he wants to keep telling himself that that's the reason for his success, the Bruins will let him do just that.

But Horton played with a certain type of fire on Wednesday night, a certain type of confidence, that he hadn't shown much of in the previous 23 games, in which he only had two goals and five assists.

It was his always-visible fire and physicality against the Canadiens that made him look faster, stronger, and much more confident than he's looked all season long.

"That's what we wanted from him for a while now," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the win. "It happened tonight. We're certainly happy with that. Now, it's a matter of, hopefully, him continuing to do that for our team. He was a big help for us."

Horton finished the game with six shots on net, and two of his four assists came off easy rebounds, thanks to his relentless shooting approach on Wednesday night. Dennis Seidenberg and Milan Lucic each took advantage of a juicy rebound that followed hard shots on goal from Horton and his new twig.

He also scored one himself, with 5:06 left in the third period, after he took a pass at the blue line from David Krejci, skated hard into the right circle, and sniped the top-left corner with the type of snap shot from the slot that tempted the Bruins to acquire him in the offseason.

It gave the Bruins an 8-5 lead and put the game out of reach. But more importantly, it was the icing on the cake for Horton's confident-booster filled night.

"It's nice," said Horton on his 14th goal of the season. "But it's even nicer to have the win, and have guys in the room nice and happy."

"It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself, that he was getting down on himself, but the last couple of games you could see he's starting to find his game again, and it's all starting with him skating the way he can skate, using his speed and his body, and winning those puck battles," said Lucic. "He had a big night tonight, and hopefully he continues with that confidence."

And if buying his own sticks makes that confidence stick, nobody will be holding Horton back from another trip to the local hockey shop.

"He didn't just buy one, he bought a couple," said Lucic. "He went and bought five or six sticks in a sports store. He's doing whatever he can to get himself going again. Whatever it takes."

Indeed.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.