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Nathan Horton says he thought Tim Gleason wanted to fight, reflects on disappointing start

10.19.11 at 3:48 pm ET

Nathan Horton did not speak to the media after his roughing double-minor with 8:30 remaining in a one-goal game essentially secured a Bruins’ loss against the Hurricanes Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Horton faced both the media and a sign from his coach that his slow start needs to end quickly.

After skating on the second line in practice for the first time all season (click here to see the Bruins’ revamped lines, which featured a demotion for Horton and a jump to the first line for Chris Kelly), Horton shed light on Tuesday’s incident in which he continuously punched Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason, who had declined to fight.

Though Gleason, who had slashed Horton, kept his gloves on and did not engage Horton after his challenge, the Bruins’ right wing said Wednesday that he was unaware the Hurricanes defenseman did not want to go.

“I thought he wanted to fight,” Horton said. “I turned around and waited for him. He kept acting like he was going to, but it was not the right time. I know that. It was just a little frustration, I guess.”

Added Horton: “I don’t know what [Gleason] was thinking. I just thought he wanted to [fight] because he turned around and slashed me. I turned around and he was right there. He was looking at me the whole time, and I thought he nodded his head. It’s my fault. Obviously I can’t be taking penalties like that, especially after we just scored.”

Losing his cool Tuesday hasn’t been the only bad thing to happen to Horton this season. An incredibly strong starter last season (he led the B’s with nine points through six games), Horton has just two points through six contests this season, a goal and an assist.

“It’s not something where I want to be, or as a team, not playing the way we can. We just need to get back to playing the way we can, especially myself, playing the way I can.”

The type of play to which Horton is likely referring is that of a power forward, as he displayed at points last season. One knock on Horton throughout his entire career has been his tendency to disappear for games at a time, and motivation was something with which he struggled as a member of the Panthers prior to coming to Boston.

Both Horton and the Bruins, who are now 2-4-0 on the season, seemed to be turning a corner on Saturday when the 26-year-old scored the game-tying goal, his first tally of the season, in a game the B’s would eventually win in a shootout against the Blackhawks. In a season in which positive signs have been scarce, the Bruins were unable to build any momentum from the win, as they suffered a 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes that got out of hand late.

“You can always think that way, but until you actually do it, it doesn’t matter,” Horton said of taking the Chicago win as a positive step. “Obviously, we got back to playing the way that we were before that, and it’s not going to work. As you can see, we didn’t win.”

All of Horton’s struggles and the team’s frustrations coincided in ugly fashion when Horton took his costly penalty late in the game.
“We’re not scoring, me personally or the team,” Horton said. “We’re not playing how we want to play. It’s just a little bit of frustration there. It was a bad time, obviously. I didn’t mean to hurt my team there, but that’s the way it happened and I can’t change it now.”

With new lines and three tough home games coming up against the Maple Leafs, Sharks and Canadiens, Horton and the B’s have to hope at this point that there’s nowhere to go but up. As such, Horton expressed no frustration with the fact that he was demoted and taken off Milan Lucic‘s line.

“I think there definitely comes a time when you have to change it,” he said. “[Claude Julien]’s been overly patient with us, and we definitely need to start turning things around now.

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