Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

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Campbell scoring while Horton struggles

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- When the Bruins acquired Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell for Dennis Wideman, they thought they were getting a scorer and a fourth-line center, respectively.

The thought of asking Campbell why he's scoring and why Horton isn't, in late January wasn't what anyone had in mind.

But that was the scene after Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the TD Garden.

Campbell scored the Bruins' second goal of the night, giving the B's a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second period. It was the fourth-line center's fourth goal and eighth point in his last seven games.

Horton, meanwhile, finished his seventh straight game without a goal. He has 12 goals for the season, but only one in his last 17 games after Thursday night.

"Those guys don't stay off the score sheet for too long," Campbell said of Horton after Thursday's loss. "He's had a lot of chances, if you watch the games closely. I mean, he's had great chances . . . It's only a matter of time."

But perhaps it wasn't fair for Campbell to have to answer questions about the other half of this past offseason's trading chip. After all, Campbell's not the one who's caught in a scoring rut. And Thursday night proved that once again.

Campbell finished the game as a plus-one, and scored his sixth goal of the season and his fourth in seven games.

It came five minutes into the second period, after linemates Shawn Thornton and Blake Wheeler set him up perfectly in the slot with a chance to beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

Thornton sent a puck from the left corner out to Wheeler at the top of the left circle, who then quickly re-directed a one-touch pass to his right to Campbell, who was wide open out front.

Campbell took a shot as his body was drifting backwards and beat Miller glove-side.

"It was a good play by Thornton to protect the puck and find Wheeler high, and Wheeler just made a good play to draw the guy to him and slide it over to me," said Campbell. "I was wide open, so it was a good head's up play by both of them."

"Thornton did a great job of recovering it and getting it to me in the slot there, and I just kind of saw, out of the corner of my eye, that Soupy was wide open," said Wheeler. "He did a great job. He was sort of in an awkward position, but did a great job of handling it, and put it in the net."

Wheeler has been playing on the fourth line with Campbell and Thornton as of late, thanks to Brad Marchand's positive chemistry with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. And even in the short time he's spent on that line, Wheeler has noticed the positives playing with a fourth-line center with both grit and skill.

"He's a lot of fun to play with, him and Thornton," said Wheeler. "They work so hard, and they win every battle they're in. And when you play with guys like that, it seems to make your job so much easier. You just kind of get into open spaces, and they move it to you. You always have a lot of time and space, playing with those guys."

Campbell wasn't brought into Boston to go on stretches like this. Horton was. Campbell was brought in to fill the role of fourth-line center, which has been filled by Stephane Yelle and Steve Begin in previous years.

While he's riding quite the offensive outburst in recent weeks, Cambell says he hasn't changed much about his game.

"If anything, I think we're just trying to put more pucks at the net," said Campbell. "A lot of things happen out there. Confusion happens, breakdowns happen, when you put the puck on net. So I think we're keeping it simple, the same philosophy that we've had from the beginning of the year. Our line's just a hard-working line, and things are going in.

"When the puck goes in for you, obviously it does a lot for your confidence. I don't think we're playing any different. From the beginning of the year, our lines have the same mentality, just to work hard.

"Sometimes they go in, and sometimes they don't," added Campbell. "I haven't personally changed my game. Maybe putting more pucks on net and trying to get more shots . . . But absolutely, if you talk to anybody, if you get a couple goals here and there, it feels good. Our job is to contribute in other areas of the game, but when you can put something in, and help offensively, it's a good feeling as well."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.