June 9, 2011

Horton gives B's emotional boost from start to finish

by Jesse Connolly

Hall of Famer Bobby Orr waves a flag bearing the name of injured winger Nathan Horton before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Due to a concussion that will sideline him for the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals, Nathan Horton couldn't take to the ice with his teammates for Game 4 on Monday night, but the winger had a huge impact on his team's 4-0 win from before the puck dropped until well after the final horn sounded.

Bruins legend Bobby Orr was on hand as the honorary banner captain for the big tilt and the building went bonkers when the Hall of Fame defenseman stood at his post in the crowd waving a flag displaying Horton's name and No. 18.

As Boston's lead continued to grow as the game wore on, a raucous chant of Horton's name reverberated through TD Garden.

"It was special," said forward Tyler Seguin. "I was on the bench and you hear it, it kind of gives you goose bumps a little bit. It’s just nice knowing that the fans felt the same way we do. We have him in the back of our mind at all times."

When all was said and done and the Bruins put the finishing touches on their second-straight clobbering of the Canucks, the Black and Gold didn't have to paint a picture of the injured winger in their minds. He was waiting for them in the dressing room.

Horton paid a visit to his unsuspecting fellow Bruins after the victory, swinging by the Garden to pass on the oft-mentioned, '80s style starter jacket that was left in his stall following Game 3, a group decision the B's came to as a salute to not only a beloved teammate but a close friend.

Rich Peverley deservedly earned the honor of sporting the stylish garment, as he filled in nicely for Horton on Boston's top line with two goals on the night.

"He came in the room and everyone was pretty emotional to just be able to see him," Peverley said. "No one has seen him since everything happened so he wanted to give it out tonight."

The reaction Horton received was an exuberant one.

"He was behind the curtain over there and everyone saw him. We were really excited and started yelling and clapping for him," said Peverley. "He said that he was really happy with the guys and really proud of how everyone played. So to be able to see him and look at him with a smile on his face and know he’s healthy is important to us."

Since watching No. 18 leave the ice on a stretcher, thanks to Aaron Rome's devastating, open-ice hit, the Bruins have pummeled the Canucks into submission while outscoring them 12-1. Boston has undoubtedly played much better at home than they did in the first two tilts in Vancouver, but even the Bruins themselves admit that the incident has been used as motivation.

"I think when you see a guy like Horts going down, one of our top scorers, a great leader and a great guy in the dressing room, it sparks everyone," said Seguin. "It motivates everyone, and it’s just another reason why we want to go all the way and win it. It’s just, win it for Horts."

Horton won't be physically present when the B's voyage to Vancouver for Friday night's Game 5, but if the emotional lift he provided them on Wednesday has any carryover, his teammates might be heading back to Boston with a chance to lift Lord Stanley in the coming days.