Horton has career night with store-bought stick

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Horton has career night with store-bought stick

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Nathan Horton has officially re-invented the phrase "whatever it takes."

Mired in a 20-game slump in which he scored only one goal, the Bruins' top-line winger needed to do something drastic in order to start putting pucks in the net once again.

During the All-Star break, Horton walked into a local New-England area sports store, and purchased several brand-new Easton sticks. He told store managers that he was buying them for a friend.

He lied. But, hey, whatever it takes.

Entering Wednesday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens, Horton had a goal and an assist in his last three games since returning from the All-Star break. He continued his resurgence with an exclamation point against the rival Habs on Wednesday, putting up a career-high five points on a goal and four assists, while leading the Bruins to a wild 8-6 win.

Afterwards, Horton revealed information on his new, self-purchased weapon of choice, which still has the price tag on it.

"I used a different stick tonight, maybe that was it," said Horton with a smile.

Maybe. And if he wants to keep telling himself that that's the reason for his success, the Bruins will let him do just that.

But Horton played with a certain type of fire on Wednesday night, a certain type of confidence, that he hadn't shown much of in the previous 23 games, in which he only had two goals and five assists.

It was his always-visible fire and physicality against the Canadiens that made him look faster, stronger, and much more confident than he's looked all season long.

"That's what we wanted from him for a while now," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the win. "It happened tonight. We're certainly happy with that. Now, it's a matter of, hopefully, him continuing to do that for our team. He was a big help for us."

Horton finished the game with six shots on net, and two of his four assists came off easy rebounds, thanks to his relentless shooting approach on Wednesday night. Dennis Seidenberg and Milan Lucic each took advantage of a juicy rebound that followed hard shots on goal from Horton and his new twig.

He also scored one himself, with 5:06 left in the third period, after he took a pass at the blue line from David Krejci, skated hard into the right circle, and sniped the top-left corner with the type of snap shot from the slot that tempted the Bruins to acquire him in the offseason.

It gave the Bruins an 8-5 lead and put the game out of reach. But more importantly, it was the icing on the cake for Horton's confident-booster filled night.

"It's nice," said Horton on his 14th goal of the season. "But it's even nicer to have the win, and have guys in the room nice and happy."

"It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself, that he was getting down on himself, but the last couple of games you could see he's starting to find his game again, and it's all starting with him skating the way he can skate, using his speed and his body, and winning those puck battles," said Lucic. "He had a big night tonight, and hopefully he continues with that confidence."

And if buying his own sticks makes that confidence stick, nobody will be holding Horton back from another trip to the local hockey shop.

"He didn't just buy one, he bought a couple," said Lucic. "He went and bought five or six sticks in a sports store. He's doing whatever he can to get himself going again. Whatever it takes."

Indeed.

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.

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars being released today. Amazing that the power and influence of the best movie franchise in cinematic history are just as strong today as it was four decades ago. I still remember my first time seeing it as a very little kid with my parents at the dearly departed Starlight Drive-In in North Reading.

*Good guy and recently fired Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army talks about a rough past season with the Avs, and some of the difficulties they faced in a truly terrible season. The former Providence College head coach and good hockey man shouldn’t have much trouble finding his next gig.

*A great move by the Arizona Coyotes, who have hired former Bruins forward Craig Cunningham as a pro scout after his awful medical situation last season that resulted in his leg getting amputated. Cunningham is a hard worker and a hockey lifer, and that’s exactly the kind of traits that the best scouts have in huge amounts.

*The New Jersey Devils have fired a number of employees after a rough season, including a groundbreaking radio analyst.

*With the ultra-competitive demand for an edge in NHL player development, teams are beginning to look to Europe for more and more diamonds in the rough. The Bruins tried that with Joonas Kemppainen, but it didn’t work out so well.

*One of the real big advantages of the Nashville Predators getting to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time is a national spotlight getting flashed on PK Subban, who shows off his personality in a rare ESPN interview of a hockey player featured on the network's magazine show.

*Ryan Johansen isn’t done talking smack to Ryan Kesler after the Predators prevailed over the Ducks, and it’s some delicious playoff hatred.

*Is the NHL ready to draft another goaltender with the last name DiPietro in the first round? Inquiring minds want to know, but I’d recommend the New York Islanders take a pass just in the name of avoiding a repeat of some bad history for them.

*Taylor Hall sounds pretty bitter about the whole “Edmonton Oilers getting into the playoff without him” thing, doesn’t he?

*For something completely different: As mentioned above, it’s a milestone birthday for the Star Wars franchise hitting 40 years old today. Boy, this Boston Globe movie review was right on the money back in 1977.