Twice as nice
Horton’s score in double OT boosts Bruins
In last night’s third period, Max Pacioretty submitted a hastily deleted tweet noting that Game 5 was longer than Brad Marchand’s nose. And that was before the game went into double overtime.
After 89 minutes of up-and-down hockey last night at TD Garden, the garbage pails in the home dressing room were filled to the brim. There were bottles of water. Gatorade. Coconut water.
The Bruins, several of whom reported cramping during the game, were in no shape for celebratory postgame adult drinks. But after the exultation of a 2-1 double-overtime win before 17,565 at TD Garden, even the coldest of suds would not have tasted as good as the electrolyte-filled beverages the Bruins were all downing.
At 9:03 of double overtime, Nathan Horton tapped in the rebound of an Andrew Ference floater to give the Bruins the win and a 3-2 series advantage. Game 6 is Tuesday at the Bell Centre.
“It’s an incredible feeling,’’ said Ference. “I’ve been on both sides. It’s nice to be on the right side of the coin.’’
On the winning goal, Ference took a pass from Milan Lucic inside the offensive blue line. With the Canadiens keying on Lucic, a shooting lane opened for Ference. These days, the stay-at-home defenseman is better known for his one-finger gesture than his offense. But with all the muscle he had — Ference estimated it was traveling at 20 kilo meters an hour — he floated a shot at the cage.
Carey Price made his 49th stop of the night. There would not be a 50th.
Horton had never played in the playoffs before this season. He entered last night with only one postseason goal. Horton has been the right wing on the No. 1 line, the threesome that’s probably been struggling the most of the Boston trios.
But Horton was in the right place at the right time. First, he gained position on Roman Hamrlik. Second, Horton used his body to shield Hamrlik off the puck. Third, Horton made no mistake, burying the puck into the open net for the biggest goal of his life.
“Definitely a great feeling,’’ said Lucic. “It was a great game. They came out hard and battled hard all the way to the end. It was definitely the toughest game of the series by far. Moving forward, it’s only going to get tougher. We learned about it last year. You can’t take any lead for granted. We’re excited that we were able to pull through and get that win today. We want to enjoy it tonight.’’
Horton, however, wouldn’t have gotten the chance to score the series-swinging goal had Tim Thomas not made one of the most sparkling saves of his career. Earlier in double OT, Johnny Boychuk got caught up the ice, giving the Canadiens a two-on-one rush.
Travis Moen carried the puck down the left wing. Brian Gionta busted down the right side. As Ference approached Moen, the left wing slid a cross-ice pass through the defenseman to Gionta’s blade. Gionta had a wide-open chance that should have given Montreal the 2-1 win.
But Thomas pushed from right to left and denied Gionta with his left pad.
“I actually came out and was playing it like Moen would have a breakaway,’’ Thomas said. “That’s what it looked like right off the start. Then I realized my D was going to get back and make it a two-on-one. I was out pretty far. So I had to make sure I started to get my backward momentum going so that I could play both the shot and the pass. I had enough speed to make that push to be able to get over on the pass. I was just fortunate enough to get a leg out and cover that part of the net.’’
The game was scoreless until Brad Marchand scored his first career playoff goal at 4:33 of the third period. After Price got a piece of a Patrice Bergeron shot in front, Marchand was at the right post to tuck in the rebound.
But the Canadiens counterpunched later in the third. The third line of Mathieu Darche, Lars Eller, and Jeff Halpern, perhaps Montreal’s most effective two-way threesome of the night, took advantage of the Bruins’ third pairing. Both Darche and Eller made body-slamming thumps on Tomas Kaberle and Adam McQuaid behind the Boston net.
After the tooth-rattling hits, the puck came off the end boards to Halpern in the slot. The veteran forward buried his shot at 13:56 to make it a 1-1 game.
Then came overtime, which featured possible game-ending chances by both sides. After a scramble in front forced Thomas to stray off his line, Mike Cammalleri had a close-range shot at an open net. But Cammalleri’s shot skimmed past Bergeron, bounced off Zdeno Chara’s leg, and stayed out of the net.
“Just hit his knee,’’ Cammalleri said. “I saw Bergeron in front of me. I thought if I could beat him, I could find the empty net. But it hit Chara.’’
Later in overtime, Brent Sopel was forced to hook down Bergeron, preventing a one-on-zero chance in front of Price. The Bruins, as usual, failed to score on the power play.
Then came the second OT. And the goal Horton will never forget.
“It’s awesome,’’ Ference said. “It’s a great feeling to see one go in. But to put it in, that’s probably the first time he’s ever scored a goal like that. That’s great. That’s what it’s all about.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.