BOSTON, MA - On his first shift of Saturday's game, Nathan Horton ignited the TD Garden crowd with a heavy hit along the boards on the Capitals' Eric Fehr.
That came just 1:36 in, and from the then on, Horton and his teammates set the tone with their physicality.
By the end of the afternoon, Horton would have a Gordie Howe hat trick, with a goal, two assists, and a bout with Matt Hendricks.
"Obviously, we haven’t scored for a while, but I think our line played a lot better tonight," said Horton from in front of his locker room stall postgame, sporting his signature smile and the B's new "player of the game" t-shirt.
"Like Claude said, when you’re thinking you’re up and you’re making plays, you make more mistakes when you do that. Just get the puck deep. You saw that on every goal. I chipped the puck to Looch's corner."
"I don’t know how he got the puck every time," he added, complementing his linemate's ability to be strong on the puck, leading the B's first two goals to be scored off Lucic's hard forecheck.
At the 14:12 mark of the first, Andrew Ference chipped the puck up and Horton put it in into the left corner from the right wing boards for his linemate Lucic to go racing in on the forecheck down the left wing. And No. 17 did just that, feeding Horton with a perfect pass up the middle for his first goal in the past eight games.
"Great pass. He got the forecheck, like I said, that chip that I made. Guys are scared of him and they give him the puck. He has great vision, he saw me up in the slot there, through a couple of guys, and a great pass."
Just 3:03 later, the same play gave the B's another two-goal cushion over the Caps (and one that they would eventually keep). Zdeno Chara sent the puck through the neutral zone, and Horton again chipped the puck in for Lucic, who immediately won a quick battle along the boards and fed Krejci in front.
"And on the other goal—David’s goal—it kind of happened that I didn’t get enough on the puck to rim it around, and I looked up and he had it again," said Horton of his left winger, Lucic. "He’s just a great player, and that’s they way we got to play."
"They showed exactly what we need to see from them on a more consistent basis," said Coach Julien following the game. "They were skating the north-south type game, they were forechecking, being physical. Because of that they were turning pucks over, and not only that, they were strong on the puck, and they made their chances count."
An unlucky bounce for the B's saw them with a 2-1 lead early in the second, and just six minutes in, Matt Hendricks and Horton exchanged some words, before Andrew Ference and then Adam McQuaid stepped in. McQuaid and Hendricks went off for roughing, but didn't drop the gloves.
With just over 10 seconds to go in the second, and the B's with a 3-1 lead, after Horton had added another assist to set up Andrew Ference, Hendricks and No. 18 finally went in a quick, but emotional bout.
"It's part of the game," said Horton. "We kept running into each other. I don’t know how that was, but every time I was swinging back around or something we always bumped into each other. It’s just how it happened."
"But when you got a tough team, everybody’s got each other’s back," added Horton, when asked about McQuaid stepping in for him. "I think that was a big game for us in that way and getting everybody going. Obviously, Quaider, it was a good job by him. He’s such a great guy."
"Yeah they were unbelievable tonight," said Shawn Thornton, who had stepped in to drop the gloves with Hendricks during the game, but the two did not end up engaging. "I think everybody on that line was going, you could see it right from the drop of the puck."
"So well deserved the amount of points he [Horton] got tonight, obviously sticking up for himself and doing a good job doing that too."
And Horton hopes that this emotional will help spark he and his linemates moving forward.
"We have a lot of games. When you’re not playing good, you want to be better," said Horton. "You got to really, when you come to the game, you got to turn it on. I think, like I said, we have to play like that every night."
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