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Horton hitting stride

Winger ready for Canucks rematch

Nathan Horton (center) is a happy man after his second goal of the second period put the Bruins up, 7-0. Nathan Horton (center) is a happy man after his second goal of the second period put the Bruins up, 7-0. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / January 6, 2012
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Limited to three games in last season’s Stanley Cup Final against the Canucks, there was no discounting the emotional lift Nathan Horton gave the Bruins in the remaining four games.

The Bruins responded to the devastating concussion Horton suffered in Game 3 at the hands of Aaron Rome by pounding the Canucks, 8-1.

When Horton showed up at TD Garden for Game 6, the Bruins earned a 5-2 victory.

And who could forget Game 7 in Vancouver?

It was Horton who baptized the Canucks’ ice at Rogers Arena with melted ice brought from TD Garden.

If his contributions in last night’s 9-0 drubbing of the Calgary Flames - two goals, one assist - are any indication, Horton may very well be prepared to lend more of a presence on the ice than off it when the Bruins host the Canucks tomorrow afternoon.

“I haven’t really thought about it that way because we kind of turned the page on the series and we’re kind of looking at this year as a different year,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “But I don’t know if it’s going to be a big difference to have Nathan back. He’s been back with our team and he’s been back for most of the year.

“To me, I don’t think it’s going to be as big of an issue as the excitement of playing the team that you played in the finals last year.’’

Horton, who was one of five Bruins with 3 points last night, scored back-to-back goals at 4:15 and 14:31 of the second period. He tallied the latter after getting hit on the hip by Dennis Seidenberg’s blast from the left point, chipping in the rebound to chase Flames goaltender Leland Irving from the game.

Asked if it hurt, Horton replied, “Yeah, it did. It was definitely worth it. It landed in a great spot. It hit my skin, so it didn’t take a weird bounce, it just landed right there [in front of the net]. I’ll take it.’’

Horton also picked up an assist on Milan Lucic’s seeing-eye goal at 3:17 of the first period. It was Horton’s seventh multi-point game of the season.

After scoring the winning goal in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory at New Jersey, does Horton’s offensive resurgence signal a turning of the corner?

“It’s only two games,’’ he said. “It’s not all about points and goals, but it definitely feels nice just to help contribute. And I want to keep it going and keep contributing.’’

That Horton’s contributions came right before the Canucks’ arrival couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the big right winger, who entered last night having recorded just four shots in his last three games.

Last night, he matched it.

“He had good jump tonight, and he had good battle and he was shooting more,’’ said Julien, who bristled at questions about Horton’s lack of offensive production following Wednesday’s win. “He went into those areas where he excels and because of that he was able to score a few goals.’’

Bruins fans would love nothing more than to see Horton, who tallied Game 7-clinching goals against Montreal and Tampa Bay in last season’s playoffs, to score against the Canucks.

“I think everyone’s just thinking it’s another game,’’ Horton said when asked how he would keep his emotions in check. “But we did play them last year in the Finals. They’re still a good team, and we’re still a good team. It’s going to be a good game. I’m really not thinking too much about what happened [last year], but I’m just getting excited for the game.’’

Asked if he would be receptive if Rome approached him to talk before the game, Horton said, “No, I mean, I don’t think anyone talks to each other during the game or pregame skate or anything like that. So I’m not even thinking about something like that. I’m just getting ready for the game.’’

Apprised that Rome had a broken thumb, Horton shrugged and said, “Well, I probably won’t be seeing him then.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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