BOSTON — Don’t blame Nathan Horton for being having a big smile after the Bruins’ 2-1 victory Saturday night at the TD Garden.
With the game tied at 1-1 at 9:03 of the third, the ex-Florida Panther gathered a rebound off an Andrew Ference shot from the point and buried the puck past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for his second goal this postseason, and his first career playoff overtime winner.
And once again Horton was showing that famous grin on his face when during his postgame interview.
“It was an exciting game for both teams, but in the end it felt good to get that [game-winner],” he said. “We knew it was going to be a greasy goal, and it sure was. It was a rebound, but they all count. It was a big goal for us.”
If it wasn’t for Tim Thomas’ effort throughout the contest, Horton might not have gotten a chance for the game-winner. In fact, if it wasn’t for Thomas’ clutch save in the second overtime, then, Horton wouldn’t have had an opportunity to win the game in OT.
On a two-on-one attempt, Habs forward Travis Moen slid the puck over to Gionta, and for a spilt second, it looked like the Habs would come away victorious. But the Vezina Trophy finalist slid from side to side to deny the Montreal captain with a pad save, which arguably, to date, is Thomas’ biggest save of the season.
“When it started I actually came out and was playing as if Moen would have a breakaway, because that’s what it looked like,” Thomas said about the save. “Then I realized my D was going to get back and make it a 2-on-1, and I was out pretty far so I had to make sure I started to get my backward momentum going so I could play both the shot and the pass. I just barely had enough speed to make that push over on the pass, and I was fortunate enough to get a leg out and cover that part of the net.”
Horton had much praise for his goaltender, who made 44 saves in the victory.
“That was huge for us. That was a big lift” he said. “He’s been doing that all year, and what a special goaltender he is. That definitely gave us a big lift and gave us a little bit of momentum to carry on after that.”
Indeed that goal was big, because the Bruins now take a 3-2 series lead — after losing the first two — into the Bell Centre for Game 6 Tuesday night.
Just five games into his first playoff season, though, Horton is pretty impressed with the atmosphere and everything else that comes with it.
And who can blame him?
“It’s awesome,” Horton said. “It’s a great experience and you don’t know until you’re truly there, until you feel it, how exciting it is to be a hockey player.
“It’s pretty special. It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning, obviously, and you’re feeling good.”
“That was a huge goal for Horty,” Thomas added, “and it’s well deserved. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy and that was huge for the team and huge for him.”
Horton and company know that there’s still work to be done though to finish this series. And they are all hoping that they can finish the job now that the momentum of this series is clearly on the Bruins’ side.
“We need to keep this going and keep having fun out there,” Horton said. “I’m excited to play. I’m excited, and our team is too.”