At 5:43 of overtime Wednesday night Nathan Horton exorcised a demon.
As he followed through on his slap shot from the top of the circles, the puck eluding Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, the TD Garden’s brick and mortar had some pressure lifted off of its four corners.
That demon had come in the form of a Boston Bruins team who had not won a game seven since 1994, going 0-for-4 in game seven’s during that time span. The last three of those game seven losses making up the past three years of the Bruins playoff departures.
Horton sat perched at the media podium post game with the Bruins team awarded MVP jacket draped over his wide shoulders. “It feels good.” said Horton looking down at the raggedy brown windbreaker. “It’s the first time I got it so it’s good to have the jacket”
Rewind three years back to March 5, 2008. In a Florida Panthers uniform, Nathan Horton scored 22 seconds into overtime against his current team the Boston Bruins. Four days later, the Miami Herald had dubbed him “King of Overtime”
Three years later, Horton is still living up to the name.
“I haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time so I’ve had a while to think about it.” explained Horton looking back on his journey from Florida to Boston. “Its definitely better than I imagined, but its fun to be here and its exciting for me.”
With Horton’s arrival in Boston this past fall, expectations were raised not only for the 25-year-old, but for the Bruins as a team. And though Horton is glad to be making strides towards the Bruins ultimate goal, he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“Just getting to a playoff that’s what I was thinking, its been a dream come true for me to win in a game seven,” explained Horton. “But we still have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Bruins carried a 3-2 lead into the final minutes of regulation, when on the penalty kill, P.K. Subban drilled a one timer past Tim Thomas to tie the game. Bruins fans could feel that demon creeping up, gripping them a little tighter in their seats.
But meanwhile during intermission, in the Boston dressing room, the Bruins knew what overcoming adversity would take.
“I think we’ve always believed in each other but this year I think it has been great from the get go, right from the day we went up to Vermont for training camp to Prague, I think we really put our trust in each other and believed in each other,” explained Bruins veteran Mark Recchi, who put the Bruins up 2-0 becoming the oldest NHL player to score in a game seven.
“Yeah that’s what happens when you are 50, so, you are going to get those things.” Recchi added smiling.
“We came together, we had a lot of times like this through the season. We learned to work through it and came together as a team,” added Horton in referencing the Bruins pulling together during overtime. We have a lot of trust in each other. We rely a lot on each other. During the playoffs you can really see guys stepping up and its huge for us.”
Tonight Horton can cherish his first game seven. Tomorrow its on to work again with a new opponent in the Philadelphia Flyers on the horizon. But for now at least, Nathan Horton is enjoying the ride.
“Every day is exciting. Every day is a new day, but it feels good, definitely, to get used to this, continue winning. That’s what it’s all about.”