Horton & his new stick/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — No one can say Nathan Horton is averse to change or that he didn’t show a ton of character tonight at TD Garden.

Finally switching his stick from the model that scored him just 13 goals in the season’s first 51 games to one he bought in a Boston pro shop over the All-Star break, Horton erupted for one goal and five points in Boston’s 8-6 victory over Montreal.

The stick still had the price tag on it. While some have called for the Bruins to return Horton to Florida, the stick isn’t going back to the store and the sizeable winger might now finally start to earn his spot on the club’s top line.

To add to his offensive outburst, Horton was also a physical force and even got his paws on P.K. Subban, the trask-talking rookie defenseman who one Bruins player estimated turned down at least four fight invitations over the course of just one shift.

If the season has a happy ending for Horton, this victory over the Habs will undoubtedly be look at as a turning point. He had scored just one goal and four points in his last 12 games.

“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing,” he said after the fight-filled contest that featured a triple-digit PIM total. “I think we did that tonight but it’s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”

Horton knows all too well how scoring one night doesn’t mean the next game is going to be as productive, as he has struggled to string together goals ever since the first couple weeks of the season. Readers of this blog know, however, that nothing seems to get Horton down. His smile is impossible to erase. Although his confidence may waver, it never vacates him either.

This morning he was still pondering the stick change. Most seasons, he goes through a few different models. Boy, did he finally make the right decision.

“Well yeah, I mean, I don’t know, maybe because I used a different stick tonight, maybe that was it. Hopefully that, and I’m playing with great linemates and they’re unbelievable players,” said Horton, who also used a curve of his blade that he used when he was 18 years old. “You’re gonna get lots of chances, you just need to capitalize on them. I guess like we talked about before the game, to help the team out a little bit more and I know we’re working hard, and it’s nice to help the team contribute and be part of that.”

All Horton needs to do is find a few more of those new sticks (he has just one more) and his contributions might become more frequent.