UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was clear pretty early in Saturday nights win over the Islanders that Nathan Horton was fully engaged in the proceedings.
A particularly combative first period shift at Nassau Coliseum ended with the big right winger pushing and shoving with Isles scrapper P.A. Parenteau in front of the Boston bench -- a sign that Horton is locked in. In a surprise to exactly nobody Horton responded later in the first period with a power play goal off a Rick DiPietro giveaway, and helped get the ball rolling on Bostons 6-0 shutout victory of the Isles on their Long Island home ice.
We played a really good game with a good start, said Horton. In the third we came out straight, played good defense and were still hustling. Thats exactly what we wanted. We want to keep getting better, keep climbing and keep winning.
Horton finished with two points and four shots on net in 16:28 of action for the Bs, and was the best player on his forward line for the balance of the evening. Milan Lucic picked up a nice assist on Chris Kellys goal in the third period and David Krejci went scoreless for the Bruins, but Horton was physical and offensively involved throughout.
Thats when hes at his best, and Horton might have enjoyed his best game of the year thus far in Saturday nights smashing of the Islanders. Hes still one of the few Bs minus players still kicking around on the Boston roster after a tough start, but hes been a point-per-game player (four goals and four assists) in eight games during the month of November.
You see how he skates and how hes involved, thats the kind of impact that Nathan can have on our hockey club when hes at his best, said Claude Julien. Its nice to see him really turn the corner in the last couple of weeks, and hes really coming along. He just needs to keep it going.
The goal was a thing of beauty for Horton. DiPietro attempted to kill a penalty by fishing out a clearing attempt from behind his net and flipping it straight up the ice, but the puck landed right on Hortons stick by the blue line. Horton collected the puck and snapped it right back at the top left corner of the net while DiPietro scrambled to get back into position between the pipes.
Horton had no idea it was DiPietro at the heart of the egregious turnover, but he was more than happy to return it to sender for his sixth goal of the season.
I just came off the bench and was hoping somebody would throw it up the middle of the ice. I didnt even know it was him that threw it up there, said Horton. I just tried to get it toward the net when I got the puck.
Horton also picked up an assist after starting the transition play that ended with Chris Kellys third period goal, and he nailed the right post with a backhanded shot in the first period that could have easily been his second goal of the evening.
After a tremendously sluggish start to the season Horton now seems right on track with six goals and 13 points, and a willingness to win battles around the net after a tentative opening month. Thats the pre-concussion Nathan Horton that people have become accustomed to in Boston, and hes definitely back in business.