Horton's heroics earning him a reputation

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Horton's heroics earning him a reputation

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Clutch doesnt always get you the Bruins player of thegame jacket.

Just ask Nathan Horton.

The Bruins top-line winger sat behind a microphone on theelevated postgame stage at the TD Garden on Wednesday, wearing Bostons vintagewindbreaker thats given to the deserving player after each game.

Horton deserved it on this night, for sure, after scoringthe game-winning goal in overtime and giving the Bruins a 4-3 win in Game 7 and a4-3 opening-round playoff victory over the MontrealCanadiens.

But he also could have received it on Saturday night, asHorton gave the Bruins a 3-2 series lead after knocking home a loose puck inovertime of Game 5 at the TD Garden.

Goaltender Tim Thomas deserved it on that night, accordingto Horton. As a result, Horton got his hands on the jacket for the firsttime, following his overtime heroics in Game 7.

And nobody had any complaints about the decision.

Its awesome, said Thomas after the dramatic win. I saidlast time, it couldnt happen to a nicer guy. But hes making a name forhimself as a big-game player, and thats great to see. For a guy who has neverhad the opportunity to play in the playoffs, hes making a reputation. Wewouldnt have won this series without him.

Horton had two goals in the series heading into Game 7. Butas big a piece as hes been to the team thus far in the playoffs, he had zero shots on netentering overtime on Wednesday night.

His first shot came 5:43 into that overtime. And he made itcount.

Horton was covering the right point, as Adam McQuaid pincheddown into the right corner, and then he switched with Zdeno Chara into the highslot. That's where Horton took a pass from Milan Lucic.

Horton ripped his first shot of the game, and theblistering slapper ended up in the right corner of the net, clinching theseries for the Bruins.

It was pretty nice, said Horton. It felt pretty good. Idont remember too much, but I remember Lucic going up with the puck, and Ijust tried to get open and come towards the net . . . It was pretty special,again. It doesnt get any better.

No it doesnt. Not for a 25-year old who spent the first sixNHL seasons in Florida, without a single game of playoff hockey.

Hortons getting his first taste of the postseason now, andhes beginning to show many that hes not feeling any type of playoff pressure.

Obviously, when you score two overtime goals in a series,you understand how big a piece of the puzzle this guys been for our hockeyclub, said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the Game 7 win. I thought he hada really good start the first month of the regular season, and then he cooleddown a little bit. But what I saw from Nathan, from the half-point on until theend, is a guy who really became a lot more consistent in his game, hispreparation was good. Whether he scored or not, he was battling, he playedhard.

I think hes really grown a lot in the second half, andthen right now, scoring those two big goals. I mean, hes been saving it forseven years, right? So he had a lot of winning goals in him.

Horton is in his seventh NHL season. He was acquired in anoffseason trade for the sole purpose of putting the puck in the net.

There were times during the regular season when it wasfrustrating to watch his dry spells. For that, and a 1-goal-in-20-games stretchbefore the All-Star break, Horton drew his critics. They were the same criticshe had while he was with the Panthers, calling him out for his disappearingacts.

In just seven playoff games, hes made himself quitenoticeable on three occasions. Two were after game-winners in overtime againstthe Montreal Canadiens.

Im really enjoying it, said Horton about his firstplayoff series. Every day is exciting. Every day is a new day, but it feelsgood, definitely.

"I could get used to this, you know, continued winning. Thatswhat its all about.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena with little more than a handful of B’s players skating, but the most important player to Boston success, Tuukka Rask, was taking part after missing practice on Monday.

Rask missed Monday’s practice session while getting checked out medically following his exit from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to vision issues. He said on Tuesday that it was all related to migraines that have cropped up a couple of times in his NHL career. The Bruins No. 1 netminder also said he was good to play on Tuesday night against the Red Wings with just a couple of home games left until this weekend’s All-Star break.

That was the kind of good news embattled coach Claude Julien was looking for as Boston looks to end its season-worst, four-game losing streak.

“We’ve got good news so far, so that’s nice to see,” Julien said of Rask, who has started 13 of Boston’s past 14 games dating to a Dec. 27 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Obviously it was because of the migraines, so hopefully we won’t see much more of that.”

In other Black and Gold health news, both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller have been cleared to play, and are expected to rejoin the B’s lineup with John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow headed for healthy scratches. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings as the Red Wings arrive for a divisional tilt after a shootout loss for Boston last week at Joe Louis Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller


Rask
 

McIntyre still building and earning trust of B's coaching staff

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McIntyre still building and earning trust of B's coaching staff

BRIGHTON, Mass -- It hasn’t been an easy road for Bruins rookie goaltender Zane McIntyre since getting called back up by Boston a few weeks ago.

The 24-year-old netminder is trying to give the B’s top-level goaltending while earning the trust of the Bruins coaching staff, and adjusting to the sporadic playing time that goes along with playing understudy to a No. 1 netminder like Tuukka Rask. The three goals allowed in the third period of Sunday afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Penguins didn’t look good on paper, but really there wasn’t much McIntyre could do with the defense totally breaking down in front of him during a 12-shot barrage in the final 20 minutes.

The 3.95 goals against average and .860 save percentage certainly look like a little frightening for the first-year goalie, but the truth is there’s going to be some bumps as he adjusts to life as a backup for the first time.

“[The adjustment] is mostly between the ears, to be honest,” said McIntyre. “I have confidence in my physical abilities and I know what I can do, and what makes my game successful. So right now it’s just building confidence every day in practice and staying persistent, staying with it. I know good things are going to happen when you surround yourself with good people, and the biggest thing is battling every day and making sure I’m contributing to the team.”

McIntyre will certainly have to be sharp if he’s put back in the crease on Tuesday night against the Red Wings after Rask exited from Sunday’s loss in the second period with symptoms of a migraine. The Bruins top goalie missed practice on Monday while getting himself checked out medically, and there’s a chance he could be out if the symptoms are in any way related to the Roman Josi shot he took off his neck last week.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day to be honest. That’s what I’ve always done in the past, and I’m just trying to build up confidence every day,” said McIntyre, who had been lights out in Providence prior to getting the call to Boston. “We’ll just see what happens and roll with it.”

That’s a challenge McIntyre will certainly be up for in a different way than Sunday’s mop-up duty, but it remains to be seen just how steady-footed the Bruins will be about their goalie situation if Rask is expected to miss any time this week.