EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 28, 2011

Heroic Horton embraces overtime pressure

By Jeff Hamrick
sports@eagletribune.com

BOSTON — Game 7.

The Boston Bruins had been in this situation each of the previous three years and four of the previous seven. This year, however, turned out incredibly different.

And it was a guy who hadn't been around for those four hugely disappointing losses who provided the joy.

Nathan Horton, who arrived in town last June soon after Boston's historic collapse in last year's Eastern conference semifinal loss to Philadelphia, sent the B's back to the semis — against those same Flyers — with the game-winning goal 5:43 into overtime.

The 4-3 win over Montreal was the second straight game at the TD Garden that Horton scored in overtime. He gave Boston a Game 3 victory in the second overtime.

"It was pretty nice," Horton said of his one-timer from the top of the left circle. "It felt pretty good. I really don't remember too much, I just remember Milan (Lucic) getting it to me and sending it to the net."

It was Horton's third goal of the series. This after never scoring in 38 previous playoff games during his six-year stint with the Florida Panthers.

"I'm really enjoying it," said Horton, who scored 26 goals in the regular season. "Every day's a new day, but you can get used to this. It's better than I imagined."

Recchi climbs record books

Boston appeared to have matters in hand when Mark Recchi put the B's ahead 2-0 with 14:21 left in the opening period. Recchi's 57th career playoff goal came two minutes after a Johnny Boychuk score. Recchi, who has played 171 postseason games, ranks second among active players, one goal behind Mike Modano. Recchi also ranks third in points with 137 behind only Detroit teammates Niklas Lidstrom (177) and Modano (145).

Boychuk snaps dubious streak

Johnny Boychuk scored his first goal of the series and third in his 20-game career at the 3:31 mark of the first. That snapped Boston's Game 7 scoreless streak against the Canadiens which had lasted nearly 139 minutes.

The Bruins had been shutout by the Habs in each of their previous two Game 7's: a 2-0 loss in the 2004 conference finals and 5-0 in the 2008 quarterfinals. The last Boston goal in a Game 7 against Montreal was tallied by Ray Bourque in a 5-3 victory on April 29, 1994 against Hall of Famer Patrick Roy.

Kasper in the house

Former Boston Bruins player and coach, Steve Kasper, took in last night's Game 7.

Kasper, who now resides in Andover, was here as a fan, in the Bruins alumni box in the ninth floor. His allegiances are no longer with the Bruins. Far from it.

Kasper is a full-time pro scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, currently in his second season with the club. He looks for talent in both the NHL and AHL. After a 13-year playing career, including nine seasons in Boston, he got into coaching. He spent a year with the Providence Bruins (1994-95) then replaced Brian Sutter in Boston for the next two seasons.

After spending several years as an agent while running camps, Kasper got back into the game as a junior coach in Toronto before joining the Leafs.

"I love it," said the 49-year-old Kasper, who could easily pass for 39. "The organization is moving in the right direction. I'm having a great time."

Historic rivalry

The Bruins and Canadiens have played in an NHL-high 33 playoff series and last night's quarterfinal finale marked the eighth time the two Original Six clubs squared off in a Game 7 — most in professional sports history.

If anyone knows a thing or two about the rivalry it's Boston coach Claude Julien, who has served time on both benches and had a 4-7 playoff record during his three years with Montreal from 2003-06. In fact, Julien's only previous Game 7 victory came with the Canadiens when they beat the Bruins 2-0 in 2004.

"I think the rivalry between these two organizations that goes way back certainly makes it exciting," Julien said prior to the game. "And I think so far in this first six games, I don't think anybody has been disappointed in the type of series it's been from a fan's perspective. It certainly has been an exciting series, and hopefully from our fan's perspective it will be a good ending to the series."

BY THE NUMBERS

1 — Boston series victories out of the 27 times it has lost the opening two games of a series.

20 — Times the Bruins have gone to a Game 7.

16 — Game 7's the Bruins have played on home ice.

10 — Bruins Game 7 victories .. all of them at home.

22 — Times the Canadiens have gone to a Game 7.

11 — Game 7's the Canadiens have played on the road.

13 — Game 7 victories for Montreal ... five of them on the road.