Just another game-winner for Horton

Just another game-winner for Horton
May 2, 2013, 11:30 am
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BOSTON -- The strengths and weaknesses of hockey players become very apparent when it rolls around to Stanley Cup playoff time.

Players that don’t have the strength, the courage or the toughness won’t keep their teams in it very long if they can’t change their ways, and other clutch players find ways to elevate their game at moments of heightened importance. Just as two years ago when Nathan Horton racked up game-winning goals as the Bruins marched to the Stanley Cup, the right winger snagged the game-winning strike at the end of the first period in Boston’s 4-1 winning effort in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

It underscored Horton’s ability to come through in big moments, and also exactly what they were missing in last year’s first round exit to the Capitals when Horton was knocked out with a concussion.

“It’s another game winner for him, here in the playoffs. In his short playoff career he has stepped up and scored some big goals,” said his power forward bookend partner, Milan Lucic. “He’s been a big part of this hockey team since he’s been here. It was a big loss not having him a part of our group last year heading into the playoffs. It’s good to see him healthy again and helping us win.”

He camped in front of the net and managed to get a tip on a Wade Redden one-timed rocket from the slot just as James Reimer was trying to put a glove on the incoming shot. The goal went to a review just to make certain that Horton hadn’t made contact with the Toronto goalie’s glove on the play, but it was ruled a good score with just 12 seconds remaining in the first period.

Horton finished with the second period, game-winning strike along with three shots on net and three hits in 18:56 of ice time in his first game back since suffering an upper body injury in a fight with Jarome Iginla on April 20. Not bad for any night’s work.

But all the more amazing when you realize the big right winger was on the shelf for almost two weeks before busting out against Toronto with the playoff version of Horton.