Bruins

Horton's heroics earning him a reputation

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Horton's heroics earning him a reputation

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; Clutch doesnt always get you the Bruins player of thegame jacket.

Just ask Nathan Horton.

The Bruins top-line winger sat behind a microphone on theelevated postgame stage at the TD Garden on Wednesday, wearing Bostons vintagewindbreaker thats given to the deserving player after each game.

Horton deserved it on this night, for sure, after scoringthe game-winning goal in overtime and giving the Bruins a 4-3 win in Game 7 and a4-3 opening-round playoff victory over the MontrealCanadiens.

But he also could have received it on Saturday night, asHorton gave the Bruins a 3-2 series lead after knocking home a loose puck inovertime of Game 5 at the TD Garden.

Goaltender Tim Thomas deserved it on that night, accordingto Horton. As a result, Horton got his hands on the jacket for the firsttime, following his overtime heroics in Game 7.

And nobody had any complaints about the decision.

Its awesome, said Thomas after the dramatic win. I saidlast time, it couldnt happen to a nicer guy. But hes making a name forhimself as a big-game player, and thats great to see. For a guy who has neverhad the opportunity to play in the playoffs, hes making a reputation. Wewouldnt have won this series without him.

Horton had two goals in the series heading into Game 7. Butas big a piece as hes been to the team thus far in the playoffs, he had zero shots on netentering overtime on Wednesday night.

His first shot came 5:43 into that overtime. And he made itcount.

Horton was covering the right point, as Adam McQuaid pincheddown into the right corner, and then he switched with Zdeno Chara into the highslot. That's where Horton took a pass from Milan Lucic.

Horton ripped his first shot of the game, and theblistering slapper ended up in the right corner of the net, clinching theseries for the Bruins.

It was pretty nice, said Horton. It felt pretty good. Idont remember too much, but I remember Lucic going up with the puck, and Ijust tried to get open and come towards the net . . . It was pretty special,again. It doesnt get any better.

No it doesnt. Not for a 25-year old who spent the first sixNHL seasons in Florida, without a single game of playoff hockey.

Hortons getting his first taste of the postseason now, andhes beginning to show many that hes not feeling any type of playoff pressure.

Obviously, when you score two overtime goals in a series,you understand how big a piece of the puzzle this guys been for our hockeyclub, said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the Game 7 win. I thought he hada really good start the first month of the regular season, and then he cooleddown a little bit. But what I saw from Nathan, from the half-point on until theend, is a guy who really became a lot more consistent in his game, hispreparation was good. Whether he scored or not, he was battling, he playedhard.

I think hes really grown a lot in the second half, andthen right now, scoring those two big goals. I mean, hes been saving it forseven years, right? So he had a lot of winning goals in him.

Horton is in his seventh NHL season. He was acquired in anoffseason trade for the sole purpose of putting the puck in the net.

There were times during the regular season when it wasfrustrating to watch his dry spells. For that, and a 1-goal-in-20-games stretchbefore the All-Star break, Horton drew his critics. They were the same criticshe had while he was with the Panthers, calling him out for his disappearingacts.

In just seven playoff games, hes made himself quitenoticeable on three occasions. Two were after game-winners in overtime againstthe Montreal Canadiens.

Im really enjoying it, said Horton about his firstplayoff series. Every day is exciting. Every day is a new day, but it feelsgood, definitely.

"I could get used to this, you know, continued winning. Thatswhat its all about.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

BOSTON – Less than 48 hours after one of his legendarily hard slap shots put a Montreal Canadiens forward in the hospital after striking him in the head, Zdeno Chara didn’t hesitate when given the chance to wind up and blast away on Monday afternoon.

It was the 40-year-old Chara that rocketed a slapper past Kari Lehtonen at the end of the second period, and in doing so energized the Bruins while getting them on the scoreboard. The Chara goal helped earn the Black and Gold a point in overtime before eventually falling to the Dallas Stars by a 3-2 score at TD Garden on Monday afternoon.

The Bruins captain had been texting with the felled Montreal winger on Monday, and was fully aware that Phillip Danault was out of the hospital and doing well aside from understandable concussion symptoms after a puck to the head. Perhaps that eased Chara’s mind just a little when it came time to lean into another wind-up slapper on Monday, but it was also certainly aided by the lack of brave bodies willing to front one of his heavy, hard point blasts.

“I obviously spoke to Phillip a number of times. I talked to him right after the game and wanted to make sure he was okay, and he texted me back that he’s doing fine. He’s been released [from the hospital] and that’s very positive, good news,” said Chara. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that it’s something that happens quite often, but it’s something you never want to see with somebody getting hit and hurt. I’m very happy he’s going to recover fully and hopefully he’s back on the ice and playing hockey [soon] like we all do.”

Was there any hesitation to Chara winding up and stepping into a 100-mph slap shot so quickly after the ugly incident in Montreal?

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often where you have that clean [shooting] path to the net where you can settle the puck, take a look and take a full slapper,” said Chara. “Usually teams play so well structurally that there’s already somebody fronting it, and you’ve got to get it through him with bodies in front. It does happen, but it’s nice that you have that time to put everything on it.”

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-9 defenseman did in sparking the Bruins to come back from a 2-0 deficit and push for the overtime point while extending their point streak to a season-best 13 games and counting.

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

BOSTON – The Tyler Seguin trade from the Bruins is pretty much ancient history at this point.

It was almost five years ago, all of the good-but-not-great players Boston received in the deal from Dallas are long gone. The Bruins general manager that engineered the big trade is now dealing with totally different brush fires while running a star-crossed Edmonton Oilers group.

But the one Stars visit per season to Boston usually serves as a reminder of what the B’s dealt away in the Fourth of July trade, and for perhaps the first time ever Seguin looked like a legit, all-around No. 1 center in the Stars 3-2 overtime win over the B’s at TD Garden. Seguin made the highlight reel with an overtime game-winner after dangling through the entire Bruins group on the ice, and watching bemusement as Bruins kept diving at him trying to stop him.

The gassed trio of Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk were on the ice hemmed into the D-zone for a long time, and simply couldn’t get the puck away from the Stars once a delayed penalty was called on Grzelcyk.

“I felt like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass, so I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it,” said Seguin, who is on pace for 39 goals and 75 points this season with the Stars. “I just kind of shot it and luckily it went in.”

It was more than luck as Anton Khudobin had already dropped into a crazed double-pad stacked save attempt while Seguin was still holding patiently onto the puck.

“That’s really tough, to be honest. He has the puck there, and all the way, all the way, going, going, going, going and I mean, guys were laying down and trying to block the shot,” said Khudobin. “He had a lot of patience and I think it went between my legs or something like that and it’s just tough. Good goal by him.'

“Nothing is impossible. You know, [Seguin] is a good player and he scored a pretty good goal. But at the same time I can stop that. But I didn’t this time and overtime is not really easy because it’s 3-on-3.”

But all the overtime heroics aside, Seguin was solid throughout the game. It was almost enough to make Bruins fans go through the entire gamut of emotions again at one of a number of trades where the organization cut bait on a talented player at a very young juncture of their career.

“I think he’s through testing. I think he has made himself to be a very good player, and he’s accountable in every situation. He’s really matured. I think he’s a guy that we don’t even worry about anymore,” said Dallas head coach Ken Hitchcock. “Everyone talked about, ‘Can you make him a one?’ Well, quite frankly, he’s a [No. 1 center], and he’s playing like a one. He’s played six games in a row like this, and this is what you want in a number one center. He’s doing the job.

“He’s killing penalties, he’s out there taking key face-offs, he’s quarterbacking the power play, and he’s playing against the other team’s best player. To me, that’s what a [No. 1 center] does, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Mostly matched up against the Perfection Line that he used to be a part of, Seguin managed a 12-for-21 performance in the face-off circle while holding Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak off the board offensively. Even better for Seguin and Dallas, he was on the ice for the second Stars goal against the Bergeron trio for only the second even strength goal they’ve given up all season.

Seguin killed penalties, he finished with four shot attempts, had a couple of takeaways and played the kind of mature, 200-foot game that most wondered if he’d ever be capable of in his NHL career.

So credit where it’s due for Seguin showing all of that while clearly still in a headspace where coming to Boston is special for him.

“It’s special and it’s weird playing here still. You know, I enjoy the anthem, and looking up and seeing the banner for the team that I was a part of. It’s always going to be special, you know, playing here and having old teammates on the team,” said Seguin. “I’ve been thinking a lot more of defense, a lot more of face-offs, and a lot more of, you know, the little things. I’ve been judging my performances based on those things more than goals and assists. That’s been the biggest change for me, trying to put the work in, and [against the Bruins] it worked out for me.”

The Bruins have long since chalked up dealing a horse (Seguin) for ponies (Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow) as a big fat loss considering it never got them any closer to another Stanley Cup, and it didn’t give them any players still of use to the organization less than five years later.

But Monday afternoon’s overtime loss to Seguin and the Stars was a different kind of frustrating while watching a more mature, seemingly changed Seguin that would have fit in very nicely with the direction that the Bruins are headed these days.

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