BOSTON — His double overtime goal in Game 5 gave the Bruins a 3-2 series lead, but it was an overtime winner in Game 7 that B’s fans will remember even more.
After PK Subban tied the game at 3-3 with a power play goal with less than two minutes left in the third period, the Bruins found themselves in another overtime situation with the Canadiens for the third time in the series.
But once again, Nathan Horton became the hero, and in the process, became Boston’s new cardiac kid.
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid won a battle in the boards for the loose puck and fed it to Milan Lucic. During that process, Horton cycled from the blue-line and into an open area, where Lucic fed him after he gloved down the puck and kept it into the zone. Lucic then fed the puck to Horton, and the ex-Florida Panther fired a slap shot past Habs goalie Carey Price — the puck got deflected by on of the Habs defenseman in front — for his third goal of the playoffs and gave the Bruins that series clinching 4-3 victory in Game 7.
“It was pretty nice. It felt pretty good,” Horton said about his second game-winner of the series. “I don’t remember too much, but I remember Looch coming up with the puck and I just tried to get open. I tried to put the puck towards the net and it deflected off of someone and it went straight in.
“It was a pretty special again. It doesn’t get any better.”
While one might think that the team would be a little down after Subban tied the game with his power play goal, the B’s came together in the locker room again and supported one another.
And now they get to lift some demons off of their shoulders…at least for the time being.
“We’ve had a lot of times like this throughout the season, and we’ve learned to work through it,” Horton said on the teams morale in the locker room during the third intermission. If feels good to really come back, and work hard, and get something going.”
To no one’s surprise, Horton was all smiles after the game-winner. It’s that same smile that we’ve seen throughout the season, even when he had his mid-season slump.
And now that slump is a distant memory after his two overtime winners.
“It’s a great feeling to see a guy like that contribute with two huge OT goals,” said Bruins forward Chris Kelly, who scored his third of the playoffs at 9:44 of the third period to give Boston a 3-2 lead. “He works hard every day. That line [of Lucic, Horton and David Krejci] has been producing for us since I got here, and for a lot of games they were the only line producing. It was great to see them sum up the series with the game-winner.”
After Wednesday’s series, Horton was wearing the Bruins’ starter jacket given to the player of the game — which was previously worn by Tim Thomas after Boston’s Game 5 win — for the first time.
“It feels great. It’s the first time I’ve got it,” Horton said. “It definitely feels good to have this jacket.”
Once again, Thomas, who made the save of the series in Game 5 on Brian Gionta, praised Horton for his game-winner.
“It’s awesome,” the Vezina finalist said after a 34-save performance in Game 7. “I said last time, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. But he’s making a name for himself as a big time player and that’s great to see.
“For a guy who has never had the opportunity to play in the playoffs, he’s making a reputation. We wouldn’t have won this series without him.”
Horton and the Bruins move on to the second round where they face the Flyers in a second round rematch. Obviously we all know what happened in last year’s series, and the Black and Gold will certainly have their hands tied against the Broad St. Bullies, especially with Crhis Pronger back in the lineup.
But as they say, anything can happen in the playoffs. And Horton is looking forward to another opportunity in round two.
“Well this is huge. And definitely with what happened last year, we can put that in the past now,” said Horton, who admitted he didn’t watch much of last year’s series while he was still a member of the Panthers.
“We’ve gone through it. Anything can happen in the playoffs. You’re up 3-0 or down 2-0, and things can turn,” Horton continued. “You’ve just got to work through it and prepared to always continue to work until you get that fourth win, because life everyone says, it’s the hardest one to get.”