Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Horton makes emotional appearance

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Nathan Horton is out of the Stanley Cup finals with a severe concussion, but made a special appearance in the Bruins' locker room after Game 4.  (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press) Nathan Horton is out of the Stanley Cup finals with a severe concussion, but made a special appearance in the Bruins' locker room after Game 4. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press)
Boston's Nathan Horton didn't play in Game 4 because of a severe concussion. But Horton was feeling well enough -- he has been complaining of headaches -- to visit the TD Garden home dressing room after his team's 4-0 stomping of the Canucks.

After every win the Bruins award the team jacket, a garish artifact from the 1980s, to the most deserving player. It is up to the jacket's previous steward to select its next guardian.

Before the 8-1 Game 3 win, Horton was the jacket's last owner, courtesy of his deciding goal in the 1-0 Game 7 win over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final. But after Aaron Rome knocked him out of Monday's game, the Bruins decided not to give the jacket away without Horton having a say in it.

"We didn't pass the jacket on the last game with him gone," Boston goalie Tim Thomas said. "I think the team would have been happy leaving it with Horty for the rest of the series."

This time, Horton was present to do the honours. Appropriately, Horton gave it to one of the players who replaced him on the first line.

Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder split shifts alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Peverley led the attack with two goals. In the first period, Peverley took a clever chip pass from Krejci, pulled away from the Canucks, and beat Roberto Luongo through the legs at 11:59 for Boston's first goal.

In the third, Lucic started the rush by blowing past Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Lucic put a shot on goal that Luongo sticked aside. But the puck glanced off Peverley, who had been driving to the net, and past Luongo at 3:39. After the goal, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault replaced Luongo with Cory Schneider.

So it was only right that Horton presented the jacket to Peverley in an emotional post-game exchange.

"He handed off the jacket to Pevs," recalled Shawn Thornton. "He did a quick, 'You guys played great. I'm happy to see you. Kind of at a loss for words. Pevs, here you go.' Then we cheered him on. But not too loud."

Before the game, Bobby Orr served as the honorary fan banner captain. Before every playoff game, the Bruins have invited some of their prominent alums to serve as the captain. Upon their introduction, the fans pass a huge Bruins banner around the stands.

After Orr was introduced, the Hall of Famer waved a No. 18 Horton banner. Orr is one of Horton's agents.

Peverley comes through

After the 4-0 win, Peverley seemed happier about Horton's visit than his two-goal night.

"We didn't know he was coming in," Peverley said. "He was behind the curtain over there. Everyone saw him and we were really excited. We started yelling and clapping for him.

"He said he was really happy with the guys and really proud of how everyone played. Nobody has seen him since everything happened. To be able to see him, look at him, and have a smile on his face and know he's healthy is important to us."

Both Peverley and Ryder rewarded coach Claude Julien for his decision. Peverley was a natural fit on the first line. Ryder, while skating on the third line, took a long-distance pass from Tyler Seguin and beat Luongo high glove. Ryder's shot deflected off the stick of Sami Salo.
 
"We had different looks," said Julien, who tied Don Cherry with 31 career playoff wins, most of any Boston coach. "We saw Ryder go up there a few times as well when  Rich was killing penalties.

"I said I'd use different players at that position. Pevs has got good speed. Their line forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we'd keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well."

Thomas hits again


In Game 3, Thomas was credited with a hit for blasting Henrik Sedin out of his crease. Thomas didn't record any official hits in Game 4 but he made the most of a third-period slash to the back of Alex Burrows's leg during a Vancouver power play.

Thomas explained that earlier in the power play, Burrows hit the butt end of his stick. So when Burrows turned, Thomas tagged him on the leg. Burrows turned and shoved Thomas, who gave him a bump in return. Thomas was called for slashing while Burrows was sent off for cross-checking.

"That was the third time he'd hit my butt end on that power play," Thomas said. "It's 6-on-4. We're up 4-0. The game was getting down toward the end. I thought I'd give him a little love tap and let him know, 'I know what you're doing. I'm not going to let you do it forever.'"

Thomas stopped 38 shots for his third shutout of the post-season. It was his fourth career playoff shutout.

"Timmy doesn't like taking any kind of cheap shots, hits, or anything like that," Brad Marchand said. "He'll give it right back, especially when there's only a minute and a half in the game and we're up by four goals. He likes to give it back. It's nice to see with Timmy. He's a tough guy for the team. We don't want to see guys taking shots at him."