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Friday, February 22, 2013

Nathan Horton's Two Goals Propel The Bruins Past The Lightning, 4-2 In Tampa Bay

When the Bruins are clicking on all cylinders like they did tonight, it's tough to see many teams in the Eastern Conference (or the Western Conference) stopping them. They are so deep and even if certain guys or lines are struggling, they have a bunch of other players step up. Tampa Bay (8-7-1) saw it first-hand as they fell 4-2 to Boston (10-2-2) at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

These two teams would have met when the blizzard hit Boston two weeks ago (Saturday, February 9) but instead it was postponed until April 25. As the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals showed us, whenever they play it usually turns out to be a pretty entertaining style of hockey. Nathan Horton scored two goals for the first time in 13+ months while Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 1 assist), Brad Marchand (1 goal, 1 assist) and Dougie Hamilton (2 assists) also recorded multiple points.

Boston scored a pair of goals in the first 3:50 of the game so it looked like they might blow the Lightning out of their own building. Horton collected a rebound on Hamilton's shot and scored his fifth goal of the season at 1:11. Bergeron made it 2-0 with his third of the season at 3:50 thanks to great work along the boards by Marchand.

It's a credit to Tampa Bay and their explosive offense that they didn't roll over by any means. MVP frontrunner Steven Stamkos potted his 11th goal of the season thanks to assists from Teddy Purcell and Marc-Andre Bergeron at 8:13 of the first period. Tuukka Rask (24 saves; 8-1-2) didn't have any time to react as Stamkos roofed it over him from directly in front of the goal.

Cory Conacher tied it for the Lightning at 9:00 of the second period from Purcell and Stamkos. Not bad for a kid that went to Canisius College, Conacher gets to play on a line with Stamkos and Purcell. After Anders Lindback (22 saves) made a stop, Tampa Bay countered and the rookie Conacher put one past Rask via a 2-on-1.

They might have blown a two-goal lead but it didn't take long for the B's to respond and build another one in its place. Marchand was the recipient of a lucky bounce after Tyler Seguin's shot was blocked right to him. Bergeron had the other assist on the game-winner at 13:58 of the second period. Horton added the insurance tally at 2:33 of the third period with a perfect tip of Zdeno Chara's slap pass. Hamilton had the second assist. Everyone was trying to set Horton up for the hat trick after that but he couldn't do it, he actually hit the post on two separate occasions after Lindback was pulled for the extra skater.

Boston's tour of the Sunshine State ends on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m., NESN) as they visit the Panthers (5-7-4, 4th in Southeast Division), who appear rather hopeless at the moment despite the fact that they made the playoffs last season.

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