BOSTON - It’s hard to imagine, without being in the room, how the Boston Bruins emotions, already roiling after tying the Stanley Cup final, found another level when Nathan Horton walked into the dressing room.
The winger is out for the series after being concussed in Game 3, but there he was, unexpectedly so, looking as winger ShawnThornton put it: “As well as could be expected. He’s no model.”
Horton awarded the Bruins 1980s-style jacket given to the players’ choice as star of the game — it was picked up on eBay by defenceman Andrew Ference — to winger Rich Peverley, the guy who took Horton’s place on the Bruins’ top line and scored two goals in the Bruins 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, tying the best-of-seven final 2-2 with Game 5 set for Friday night in Vancouver.
“That was awesome,” Thornton said of Horton’s surprise visit. “He’s such an important part of our team. He makes everyone feel better about themselves. He’s always pumping people up. Nobody knew he was here. The guys definitely got smiles on their faces when he walked in.”
“I didn’t know he was behind the curtain,” Peverley said. “Everyone was pretty excited.”
“That was pretty special,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “(Horton) was pretty emotional when he handed over the jacket.”
The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 since Vancouver defencman Aaron Rome knocked Horton out with a late hit for which he was suspended for four games, effectively the rest of the final.
Now, at this point, this might be the most lopsided 2-2 tie in a Stanley Cup final in recent memory.
The Bruins sent Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo to the end of the bench—he was pulled after giving up Peverley’s second goal to make it 4-0—and sent Canucks fans into full cringe mode.
Forgive them, but they’ve seen this act before.
Like in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks looked to be in control of this series after a couple of close wins to start the series, both victories in which the Canucks clearly looked like the better team.
A big hit on Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook by Vancouver’s Raffi Torres seemed to wake the Hawks up in that one and they came back from a 3-0 deficit only to lose in overtime in Game 7.
Now, the big hit by Rome in Game 3 appears to have stirred the Bruins.
Looking for somebody to replace Horton on the first line, Bruins coach Claude Julien opted for the speedy Peverley, who had been playing on the third and sometimes the fourth lines.
Peverley opens the scoring with the always huge first goal.
Now, somebody is going to have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup back here in Game 6 Monday night.
The fans at TD Garden chanted “Nath-an Hor-ton!” during the third period and “We want the Cup!” sometimes both at the same time.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault pulled Luongo after the Peverley goal at 3:39 of the third period and replaced him with Cory Schneider.
Luongo faced 20 shots. His trip to Beantown saw him give up 12 goals on 58 shots.
The Bruins pounded the Canucks at every turn and the Sedin brothers tandem was a non-factor again in Game 4, combining for just four shots.
In previous series when they flagged, it seemed like Ryan Kesler was there to give the Canucks a boost, but it appears he has been more preoccupied with the chippy play which has marked this series.
He was sent off for chopping at the back of the legs of Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid in the third period.
Now it’s back to Vancouver.
The question now is somewhere between here and the West Coast, can the Canucks find a way to overcome what is clearly now the Horton factor