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."
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.