Over that span. No. 18 posted a mere 0-1-1, minus-3, and fell victim to some harsh scrutiny throughout the Hub.
But at 7:56 of the second period tonight against the Maple Leafs, Horton’s third shot of the game found its way behind Toronto’s netminder James Reimer and hit the back of the net, finally ending the exhausting drought.
Horton dished the puck out to Dennis Seidenberg on the point after winning a puck battle behind Toronto’s net, circled to the middle of the slot and used that patented howitzer wrist-shot that we’ve seen him use numerous times since donning a Black and Gold sweater, to tie the game up at 1-1. He finished the contest 1-1-2, plus-2, and four shots on goal in 15:03 of ice time.
The Bruins went into the locker room after the first period down 1-0 (and were 0-7-2 on the year trailing after the first) but Horton was resurrected and ignited the B’s to a 2-1 victory.
And as great as it was to see him finally light the lamp for his 12th goal of the season, Horton showed a whole lot of hustle that set-up Marc Savard’s game-winner just seven minutes later. If it weren’t for his speed through the neutral zone and being the first one on the puck to waive off an icing call, we’d be going into extra minutes at the Air Canada Centre. But Horton was first on the puck and eventually threaded it out to the point as Savard’s slapper sent the B’s back to Boston with eight standings points of a possible 10 on this fifth-and-final game of their five-game road trip.
A player built like Tarzan but may have been playing more like Jane, Horton has been using his big 6-foot-2 frame a bit more to his advantage — including tonight. But the blind mice that the NHL employs to keep track of this game’s stats had Horton with zero hits. This is the same group of statisticians that had the Bruins being out-hit 24-7 through 60 minutes; with just two hits being recorded in the second period.
When the Bruins dealt defenseman Dennis Wideman — along with Byron Bitz and their first round, No. 15 overall pick — to Florida, Horton was expected and relied on to do just a few things for Boston: shoot, score, and contribute on the power play. But unfortunately for the 25-year-old, his ghost-like numbers over the past three-plus weeks were dissected under a microscope and the scrutiny quickly spread like wildfire around Boston.
Horton’s last goal entering tonight was on Dec. 11, 2010 against the Flyers; his last last multi-point game Dec. 7 against the Sabres — a span of 13 games. At least for the next several days, the talks of Horton’s complacency, not showing up every night, and lack of production will thankfully be put on hold.
Tuukka Rask started tonight for his first consecutive back-to-back starts of the season. After getting pulled after the first 20 minutes of Saturday night’s game in Buffalo — allowing three goals on 16 shots — Rask was clearly the best player tonight as he shunned away 36-of-37 shots. It was his first victory since Dec. 9, 2010 when he made 33-of-35 saves against the Islanders…Adam McQuaid, David Krejci, and Johnny Boychuk each had three of the team’s 18 blocked shots…Zdeno Chara led the B’s with five shots on goal…Milan Lucic, Savard, and Horton line combined for nine of the team’s 33 shots, two goals, two assists, plus-5…