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Nathan Horton scores only goal in Game 7 and the Bruins are going to the Stanley Cup

May 27, 2011

Dwayne Roloson made 37 saves but couldn't stop Nathan Horton's shot 53 minutes in. The goal was Horton's second Game 7 GWG in the playoffs. (Getty)

There was no scoring until nearly the 53 minute mark but Nathan Horton‘s lone goal put the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 1-0 Game 7 win against the Lightning, the goal was Horton’s second Game 7 game-winning goal in these playoffs. Dwayne Roloson came up huge with a 37-save effort but came up one save too short. Tim Thomas made every one of his 24 saves to secure the shutout.

It wasn’t pretty, but with the Bruins it usually isn’t. There were no penalties, the Bruins won 57% of the faceoffs, dictated the pace through possession and kept their goalie safe against the Lightning’s top scorers.

The Bruins came out with a cautious but physical game in the opening minutes of he game, ragging backwards and focusing on puck possession but also playing the body in the neutral zone when in position. Tim Thomas was sharp early getting tested on a turnover by Adam McQuaid that followed with a scramble in the Bruins zone.

The Lightning would respond with a great shift by the Steven Stamkos line but despite almost an entire shift in the Bruins zone the score remained tied. Things slowed down after the see-saw first eight minutes. Both teams began to focus on defensive responsibilities and breakouts were harder to come by. The first huge chance of the game came on a Milan Lucic breakaway that looked much like his goal in Game 4 of the Flyers series, Lucic again tried five-hole but Dwayne Roloson squeezed the pads to keep the game scoreless with about five minutes left in the first period. The Bruins would outshoot the Lightning 15-9 in the first period, carried the play, but came away with a scoreless period.

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The two teams started the second as the first ended, playing tight hockey with the Bruins possessing the puck more but opportunities more or less split down the middle. Five minutes in there was a scary moment when Steven Stamkos took a Johnny Boychuk shot off the shield. The shot had so much force that the shield hit his nose, Stamkos went down in a heap then quickly skated off with a pool of blood in his hands. Stamkos would return with a full cage and a broken nose, missing only a few minutes of game time.

Showing just how little the referees would use their whistles, the referee decided to rescind a penalty against Dominic Moore in the Tampa Bay crease, much to the frustration of Claude Julien. Stamkos’ return would bring some great offensive shifts from the Lightning, crowding the Bruins net and creating turnovers late in the period. Boychuk would hit another Lightning player in the face with a shot late in the period, this one being Dwayne Roloson who followed up two big saves on Mark Recchi with a save off the mask, breaking loose a strap in the middle of play. Roloson would make another huge save off his mask on the next faceoff when a Zdeno Chara shot deflect high off the mask again. The two big saves by Roloson late would preserve a tie and the teams would go to the locker room knotted at 0-0.

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The Bruins came out with some of their best minutes to start the third period, saw some of their best chances on Roloson, but couldn’t come away with a goal as Roloson came up with huge reflex saves looking anything but his 41 years of age. Towards the middle of the period the Bruins kept forcing icings by the Lightning by pushing the play towards the Lightning end and grinding out good long shifts. This forced Guy Boucher to take his timeout at 10:38. Claude Julien would do the same after an icing at the 11 minute mark of the third period.

The Bruins would finally break through with the first goal, nearly 53 minutes into the game. The Bruins won the faceoff, set up a rush patiently. Andrew Ference fed a streaking David Krejci going across the blue line, Krejci then ragged to the left, allowing Nathan Horton to go to the net. Krejci then feathered a pass through a defender to Horton on the doorstep for the tap-in goal.

Roloson would make a gigantic save on Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1 with five minutes left in the third period, going right to left and booting a puck off the goal line, keeping Tampa’s hopes alive. The Bolts stormed back, making for a chaotic few minutes following the goal. The Bruins were happy to rag time, dump and change but the Lightning did a good job of puck possession for really the first time all night.

The Bruins did a great job of keeping the puck in the final minutes of the game, keeping Roloson in his cage until there were 45 seconds left in the third period. An offside would put Roloson back in as the faceoff came at the center dot, not a second after he initially got to the bench. The Bruins won the ensuing faceoff, chipped deep and Roloson finally pulled himself with 30 seconds left. The Lightning couldn’t get it in the zone and the Bruins killed off the remaining seconds to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years.

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Random Thoughts
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Nathan Effing Horton. I don’t recall anything quite like what he’s done. Hasn’t played in the playoffs in his first six seasons and the guy is a dynamo. As clutch as clutch can get for the Bruins. My man was playing on 1.5 legs tonight. He was going down easy, getting up slowly but charged on. Horton has 7 goals and 9 assists in these playoffs and 2 GWGs. He was frustrating at some points this season but has eaten up the playoffs.

All that being said this was the most stressful hockey game I’ve ever watched with the Gold Medal Game of 2010 being second. With the game winding down the chance for a cheap goal deciding a seven game war became all too real. The last thing you want to see is a series decided by a booted puck, a bad bounce, or anything of the like. That’s why I’m glad Horton’s goal was legit.

Tim Thomas came with his A Game tonight, as did Rolo. Both goalies were spectacular, exactly what you want to see in a Game 7. Thomas has proven to come up huge with individual saves and 60-minute efforts. Steve Downie’s going to be seeing his Reebok stick in his dreams until he dies.

The Bruins defense tonight was balls. Thomas didn’t have to make a Thomasonian save tonight and that’s a testament to Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara and the rest of the defense. Blocked shots were even at 17-17 but the Bruins clogged up the defensive zone exceptionally and matching the top pairing against Vinny’s line was huge tonight.

Speaking of the D, I’ve never seen a team kill off the final 3 minutes of a one-goal game quite so well. It was amazing. The Lightning couldn’t get the puck in the zone. I was waiting for that to be the most stresfull 120 seconds of my life but it never came. Thank God. My heart might have stopped if there was a goal or post or anything resembling a good chance.

Steven Stamkos. I always thought he was a mouth-breathing moron who could do nothing but score goals and flop around but the man showed some heart tonight. He got clocked with what must have been a 95+ mph heater from Boychuk. No doubt his nose was shattered and he was having trouble breathing out there (kind of key in hockey/living). I think he missed one shift, maybe zero. You can put that kid on my team any day.

Cup Finals starts Wednesday. EVERY game will start at 8pm because nobody cares about the Pacific time zone. Thank God it starts Wednesday, it’ll take at least 3 days for me to comprehend that the Bruins are four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Obviously I’ll have an in depth preview of the SCF but I’ll tell you right now that the Bruins have a legitimate shot of winning the thing. They’ll need to be damn near perfect but they have a chance. The Canucks are used to the Western Conference, which plays run-and-gun hockey so it’s going to be interesting to see which teams exerts their will more finely in the series. It’s offense vs defense, stars vs scrubs, Juggernaut vs the Little Engine That Might.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 11:30 AM

    Comcast SportsNet will be hosting a Hockey Talk call-in show tonight from 7 to 8:30 featuring Michael Felger, Tony Amonte, Joe Haggerty and Mike Girardi. Call in at 877-276-2160 or log on to CSNNE.Com to have your comments and questions read on-air.

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