BOSTON – Everywhere you looked in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston power forward Nathan Horton was in the middle of it.
Early on, Horton was the scapegoat, taking back-to-back interference penalties late in the first and early in the second period, allowing Tampa Bay's potent power play the opportunity to build on a 1-0 lead.
Then, after Boston killed off the penalties, Horton tied the game at 1-1 in the second period with a wicked 1-timer on a pass from Milan Lucic to get Boston's rally going.
When it was all over, Boston had fashioned a 3-1 victory against the Lightning on Monday at TD Garden to move within one win of the franchise's first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 1990. In the game, Horton saw almost 18 minutes of ice time, had the goal on 3 shots, took the aforementioned two interference penalties and delivered 4 hits.
Question: Can you talk about the penalty kills late in the first and early in the second on your penalties?
Horton: Well as you can see, I think after all my penalties, we just got the momentum. We feel it, and I think everyone felt it, and we just kind of took it off from there. We were kind of struggling a little bit on the power play, but when you do that, hopefully, the penalty kill steps up. And they sure did tonight. Timmy [Thomas] was great again, he made some unbelievable saves and that's what you need to win the games.
Question: How would you categorize tonight's win?
Horton: It's a huge win. We know we can play better but definitely Timmy stepped up for us tonight, and he helped us. And we didn't play bad after the first period. After we got down, we still kept pushing, and that's how it goes sometimes. But, in the end, all that matters, we won the game. I think now, we just, we'll enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow I'm going to wake up, forget about it like everyone says, and get ready for the next game.
Question: How did the first goal for you guys change the attitude on the bench?
Horton: We didn't score a goal in the first period so we, I think just a little, we got a little spark when that went in and we were back in it and were on the board. As you can see, (Patrice Bergeron)'s the one who came out and scored, and (Brad Marchand) had a nice goal.
Question: What about the save Tim Thomas made on Steve Downie?
Horton: Yeah, I think we were on the bench and we were just, you know, wow, it's pretty special when your goalie makes those kind of saves. It really picks you up. He had an empty net, and (Thomas) never gives up; that's what good about him. He's always in the net trying to stop the puck and that's a good quality for a goalie.
Question: How frantic were the last few minutes of that game?
Horton: They were. We stuck with it, though. We kept battling, and it was nice to finally get that empty netter by (Rich Peverley). You're a little bit tense before that, but in the end it worked out well.
Question: Tampa Bay out-shot you guys by a pretty good margin. Is that a concern?
Horton: It doesn't matter now, but I think after the second period we weren't down that many shots, if you take away the first. I mean, we obviously have to be better. They're a good team and highly skilled, and now we just come into this next game, and play better and play smarter, turn things around and be a better team.
Question: How hard it is to get the fourth win in a playoff series?
Horton: I mean I don't need to say it, everybody else says it. It's the toughest one to get, right? We're going to have to work even harder because we're going into their building and they're going to be all excited, and just need to play smart and work hard, and play a good, solid road game.
Question: What about the execution on your goal?
Horton: It was a great (faceoff) win by (David Krejci) there and (Milan Lucic) grabbed the puck and he took it. He didn't go back to the point. I just tried to get open and he gave me a pretty nice backhand pass. So I just tried to get it on net and it went in. It was a big goal for us.