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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nathan Horton saves numerous jobs, sends Canadiens back to Clown College

Given the stakes (Claude Julien, possibly Peter Chiarelli and the nucleus of the team's jobs all on the line), it's hard to remember a more important victory for the down-trodden Bruins franchise than last night.

It was only the first round so we'll hold off on the duck boats (no riots like in Montreal for first round wins) but this win can go a long way in eradicating some terrible history. The 4-3 overtime win by the Bruins in Game 7 over Montreal at TD Garden was Boston's first Game 7 triumph in 17 miserable years.

It's also the first time (0 for 26 previously) that the team had rallied from being down 0-2 in a playoff series. Oh and they also were the first team to advance despite no power-play goals in seven games (0 for 21).

There's still plenty of work to be done (gotta get past this round to save Julien's head) but until the Eastern Conference semifinals start on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, we have to savor this one. Nothing better than sending the Canadiens home for the summer and not having to see their pathetic brand of hockey anymore.

Just like in Game 5, Horton was the overtime hero as he ripped a slap shot past Montreal goaltender Carey Price (30 saves) 5:43 into OT. Milan Lucic had the primary assist with a nice pass back while Adam McQuaid had the other assist after pinching to keep the puck in the zone.

The Bruins won four of the last five games in the series, including all three overtime contests (Game 4, 5 and 7).

Game 7 couldn't have started any better for Boston as they went up 2-0 just 5:33 into it. Johnny Boychuk (from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron) and Mark Recchi (from Andrew Ference) did the honors as Boychuk's shot in traffic found the net and Recchi was uncovered right in front of Price before he put a wrist shot over Price's glove hand. It was the first goal of the series for both guys.

As I always say though, nothing is ever easy for the Bruins. So of course they quickly coughed up the lead as Yannick Weber (2nd of the series) cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 9:49 (from Roman Hamrlik and Mike Cammaleri).

Even more painful was the tying goal as Tomas Plekanec (2nd of the series) walked in on a breakaway and beat Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (34 saves) with a shorthanded goal at 5:50 of the second period.

Chris Kelly scored his third of the series at 9:44 of the third period and it looked like maybe it would hold up. Yeah right, a high sticking penalty by Patrice Bergeron with 2:37 left in regulation led to P.K. Subban's second goal of the series. The power-play missile didn't so much go by Thomas as through him. Plekanec and Brian Gionta assisted on the goal that took all the energy out of the Garden.

Could the Bruins collapse again? In another Game 7? Against the Canadiens? Not on this night. Horton got it done and this team can collectively breath an enormous sigh of relief.

Bring on the Flyers, it's time to get some payback for the once-in-a-lifetime collapse the Bs experienced last spring to them in the Eastern Conference semifinals (losing a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead and Game 7). Can't ask for much more than this matchup.

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