Bruins

Horton pots third game-winner of playoffs

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Horton pots third game-winner of playoffs

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Nathan Horton has played in the warm weather before. Hesjust never done it in late May.

And in case you werent counting, thats now threegame-winning goals in his first Stanley Cup playoff experience.

It was 80 degrees in Boston on Friday afternoon, and Friday night marked his third game-winner -- his eighth goalof the postseason -- as he finished a perfect pass from David Krejci with7:33 left in the third period. It broke a scoreless game, and proved to be thedifference-maker in sending the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals for the firsttime since 1990.

Horton, who was traded to Boston from Florida in theoffseason, has answered any and all questions as to whether or not he wouldface playoff jitters in his first go-around.

If he didnt get the message across with two overtimegame-winners in Games 5 and 7 of the Bruins first-round series with theCanadiens, he pounded it home once again in Game 7 of the Eastern ConferenceFinals, as the Bs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0.

Its been a long road, said Horton after the win. A lotof hard work, a lot of days at the rink. But it makes it nice when youre atthe rink with a great organization.

I played a long time without being in the playoffs. Itsbeen a long road to get there, and I realize thats its not easy, and yourenot going to get this opportunity every time, so youve got to make the best ofit.

Horton put his stick on the ice and burst past a group offlat-footed Tampa Bay defensemen, as Krejci took the puck over the blue lineand down into the lower-left circle. Krejci turned and slowed the play down,and found Horton going hard to the right post.

The result was a goal, and what turned out to be another game-winnerfor Horton.

It feels good, said Horton. We only got one goal, andthats all we needed tonight.

I saw Krejci and he had a lot of speed, and hes got thepuck and they were flat footed, he said. I had some speed too, so I justtried to get to the net, get him some space, and he gave me a great pass.

For his first playoffs, hes been unbelievable, saidveteran Mark Recchi after the win. Not only with goals, but hes battled. Hesbattled hard, hes competed hard every night. Hes been a complete warrior, andhes been a heck of a player for us. Hes led the way, competitive-wise, andits great."

His competitiveness got him back on the ice in the secondperiod after he went to the dressing room in the first period, following a hithe took from Blair Jones.

Horton described it as just a little bump and returned tobe the hero.

We knew hed be back, said Recchi with a laugh. Hesfine. Hes a competitive guy.

Every series, it just keeps getting harder to explain howgood that feeling is, said Horton.

Im excited to be here. It feels good, and it keeps gettingbetter. Its definitely nice to score a game-winner, and just be a contributingplayer to help our team win. It feels pretty good.

Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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