BOSTON – Nathan Horton
scored the game-winning goal at 12:27 of the third period, and the Boston Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1991 with their 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in tonight’s Game 7 at TD Garden.
|Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson (35), center Steven Stamkos (91), and left wing Simon Gagne (12) react as Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) starts to celebrate with right wing Nathan Horton, hidden at right, after Horton's goal in the third period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final series, Friday, May 27, 2011, in Boston. The Bruins won 1-0. ( |
"It’s awesome," said Horton, postgame. "What a feeling!
"There are twenty eight other teams that would like to be in our position.
"And it’s an unbelievable feeling and we’re going to the Stanley Cup Finals," he said.
The first period featured plenty of action in what turned out to be a very fast-paced and well-played game. Both goaltenders, Boston's Tim Thomas
and Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson, made quality saves to keep the score at 0-0 through 20 minutes of action.
"I think this was probably one of our better games that we’ve played as far as no big mistakes that I saw in the game," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "I thought it was a well-played game seven.
"We had energy, we had confidence, and we certainly had some chances earlier on, but their goaltender was extremely good for them and kept them in the game."
Boston held the edge in shots (15-9) and faceoffs (9-8) while sustaining pressure in Tampa’s zone throughout the majority of the period.
The second period featured much of the same play, although Tampa sent a few more minutes in Boston’s zone than they managed in the first. The Bruins still outshot Tampa 9-6 in the period, for a 24-15 shot advantage through the first two frames.
Boston had multiple scoring opportunities, including a Tyler Seguin
wrist shot that went just high and a Zdeno Chara
blast, tipped just wide by Horton.
"Tampa Bay certainly deserves a lot of credit," said Julien. "The fact that where they were before this year, for the last few seasons.
"And to come back this year and play the way they did and push us right to the limit in the third round of the playoffs, I think they deserve a lot of credit.
"From the ownership down, they’ve obviously done a pretty good job and they certainly gave us all we could take," he said.
Roloson was able to make the key saves when it matter and kept his team in the game, despite seeing most of the action in his end.
"You know, a lot of the guys have been drained from the previous series and Roli really stood the fort there, he was outstanding tonight," said Tampa Bay Head Coach Guy Boucher. "I don’t think he could have done better than what he did tonight.
"I mean, 41-years-old, you can’t do more than that. It’s impressive, it’s a mental toughness.
"It’s just credit to the man," added Boucher. "It’s impressive. That’s really impressive."
Finally, after a penalty-free affair that feature impeccable defense from both squads Horton was the hero once again, netting the only goal of the game.
"I think [Andrew] Ference had it back there and we just tried to come back and get some speed," said Horton. "We know they’re playing the trap a little bit so we just try to get some speed and I think Fer made a nice pass to [David Krejci
] and they were flat footed, they couldn’t keep up with him.
"And I just tried to drive the net and I just went with my stick on the ice. And he’s such a good player and a good passer and such a smart hockey player.
"He just passed it to me and it just hit my stick and went in," he said.
The Bruins continued to play defense after they took the lead, and because they played so strong, Tampa wasn’t able to pull Roloson for the sixth skater until there was less than a minute remaining.
"We knew we had to play a 60-minute game tonight," said Julien. "There couldn’t be a ten-minute lapse in our game.
"In game seven, you got to be so focused. Our guys did a great job."
Boston will travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in Game 1 on the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday. With John Bishop