This is only the first playoff series in the young but promising careers of Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand. From the way the two are playing, though, you might have a hard time telling.
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Marchand scored midway through the third period to put the Bruins up 1-0 and Horton was the double-overtime hero, scoring nine minutes into the fifth period to top the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in Game 5 of their series Saturday night at Boston’s TD Garden.
The game was the first win for a home team in the series, which Boston now leads 3-2, heading back to Montreal for Game 6 on Tuesday.
In the closing moments of the second period, Marchand found himself in the middle of a scrum with Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec in front of the Canadiens net, which seemed to pump some life into the crowd and his teammates.
“Yeah, well, I was trying to stay away from it a bit there at first,” Marchand said of the altercation. “But Plekanec kind of got in my face there and I wasn’t too happy about it. I tried to throw a punch, but I don’t think I got him.”
Though Marchand might not have considered his scuffle a success, he later made his mark where it counted most.
It was Marchand again who acted as a momentum igniter in the third when after an in-tight give-and-go passing play with Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins rookie slipped the puck past Montreal goalie Carey Price for the first playoff goal of his career.
“It was very exciting," Marchand said. "It was nice to get the monkey off the back. It took a little while but, again, I was just pretty excited about it.
"It was nice to get the first one. Thank God guys stepped up lately and they didn’t need me to score. So it was nice to kind of get one and chip in a little there.”
Where Marchand enabled the Bruins to take the initial lead, it was another playoff rookie in Horton who found himself finishing off the game.
After the Bruins moved the puck around above the faceoff dots, Horton moved into position on top of the crease, where he is especially dangerous, and pounced on a rebound to seal the win.
“We knew it was going to be a greasy goal, and it sure was,” said Horton, who spent his first six playoff-less seasons in the NHL with the Florida Panthers before joining the Bruins prior to this season. “It was a rebound, but they all count.”
And for only the fifth playoff game of his career, Horton seems to be getting the hang of things pretty quickly.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great experience and you don’t know until you’re truly there, until you feel it, how exciting it is to be a hockey player,” said Horton. “It’s pretty special. It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning, obviously, and you’re feeling good.”
Horton and linemates Milan Lucic and David Kreji had recently come under some criticism for lack of production in the series, but Horton was quick to point out what he really feels is more important.
“Well, obviously we do want to score. We’ve had opportunities to score, we’ve been playing well, but it hasn’t been going in,” he said. “But it’s a team game and … in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who scores, it matters who wins.”
The Bruins head to Montreal on Tuesday to try to close out the series against the Canadiens, but they know that’s something easier said than done.
“The last game is always the toughest one to get," Marchand said. "And we saw it last year with Philly. So we just have to make sure that we’re ready. They’re going to come out really hard and we have to match that.
“We didn’t do that last time we were in Montreal, and they dominated us. So we just have to make sure we have a good start.”