BOSTON — As he’s wont to do, Nathan Horton today tried to make as though it was no big deal that he popped Dominic Moore in the mouth in the closing seconds of the Bruins’ loss Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
After all, this is a guy who once got cut in a fight during the regular season and the next day claimed that he didn’t remember what happened.
“Did I get a 10-minute [misconduct]? I didn’t even know,” said the Bruins forward today after he was made available to the media for the first time since the incident.
Horton’s punch wasn’t the first time this season he and Moore engaged in extracurricular activity. Back in early March Horton and Moore nearly came to blows near center ice — an exchange that resulted in Milan Lucic hitting Moore with a high stick and then fighting Tampa Bay defenseman Eric Brewer.
Despite the rematch nature of Saturday’s incident, Horton said Moore’s not getting under his skin.
“It’s over. It happened,” said Horton. “Hopefully we don’t have to get in that situation again and we’re protecting a lead.”
“He’s not under my skin at all. I’m just trying to play physical and he was there so it just kind of happened.”
For the Bruins to have a lead and be in a different situation when Game 2 winds down, Horton, Lucic and center David Krejci must get on the score sheet and erase the collective goose egg they posted in Game 1.
That’ll require Horton and Lucic — who threw his own sucker-punch at Victor Hedman right after Horton’s blow — to direct their energies toward the front of the Tampa Bay net and goaltender Dwayne Roloson rather than toward the heads of unsuspecting Lightning players.
“We had lots of chances. We had some chances we could’ve scored, too. It’s just how it went, the game,” said Horton, who finished with five shots on net in that game. “And obviously the next game, it’s going to be different. We want to keep working hard, keep getting our opportunities and hopefully they go in.”
That hard work has to involve more than just getting shots and getting chances. It has to create quality chances — the type that requires a player to pay the price to create. The Lightning were able to box out and keep Roloson’s eyes clear and the shooting lanes free all through Game 1.
“I think we just weren’t working hard enough to get there,” said Horton. “Not to take anything away from the way they played because they worked harder than us to win. But we weren’t battling enough to get in front so we could screen the goalie and get rebounds. A lot of goals go in that way, that’s how you score goals, and we just weren’t in that spot.”