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Predicting what’s next for Nathan Horton, and why 10 is his lucky number 02.02.11 at 6:31 pm ET
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Nathan Horton has followed up ugly slumps with hot streaks throughout his career. (AP)

In case you haven’t heard, Nathan Horton scored on Tuesday. Who would have thought when the Bruins acquired the talented scorer over the summer that such a basic feat, and one that he’s accomplished 155 times, would be a big deal in February?

Inconsistency set in with Horton after a great start to the season, and more recently he had been unable to score even when he had positive showings. Such is the life of a streaky goal-scorer, but after scoring his first goal after 10 days without one, what is next for the 25-year-old?

Thanks to the good old stat truck, we can actually do a bit of projecting here, and it looks good. Turns out that Horton, who is known to have slumps, really turns it on when they reach 10 games.

Horton went 10 games without a goal to begin his career back in the 2003-04 season. Despite the fact that he was the team’s first-round draft choice (they traded down from the top spot and grabbed him at No. 3 overall), rookies get cut a bit of slack in that department. Hell, Tyler Seguin has had stretches of 11 and nine games (the latter of which is active) without a goal, but you don’t get on a rookie for struggling to find the back of the net. But I digress.

The story with Horton is that he is no stranger to these extra-long stretches of games without a goal. He’s probably the most talented scorer on the team (though Seguin should eventually dethrone him there), but he has had his struggles with getting goals on a consistent basis.

The good news is that 10 seems to be some sort of magic number for Horton. He reaches either 10 or 11 straight games without a goal and then finds a way to not only score, but score often. Take that rookie season of his for example. Horton scored his first career goal in the 11th game and followed it up with another tally the next game. From there he cooled again, but over the course of his career, Horton has been able to follow cold streaks that reach double digits by reminding people why his talents are so highly regarded.

Here’s the rub on Horton’s other stretches of 10 or more games without a goal over the course of his career:

- Horton failed to register a goal over 10 games from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8 in the 2005-06 season. Similar to this season, Horton scored after 10 games, and followed it up with another goal the next game. Upon scoring the slump-breaking goal against the Blues on Jan. 12, Horton went on to notch five goals in his next 10 games.

- In the 2007-08 season, Horton went 11 games (Jan. 5-Jan. 30) without a goal. He caught fire following the stretch, scoring eight goals over the next nine games, including a stretch of four straight games with a goal.

- The 2008-09 campaign also saw a prolonged scoring slump for Horton. He went 10 games without a goal from Nov. 14 to Dec. 26 (with some missed games sprinkled in therewith an ankle injury). Horton followed that up with six goals over his next eight games. You’ve probably caught onto the pattern from now on.

Last time Horton found himself the topic of “it’s been ___ games since this guy scored” columns and discussions (Dec. 15 to Jan. 1), he scored after nine games, getting one in the second period of the team’s 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That didn’t seem to be the slump-breaker that he’s gotten in the past, as he followed it up with the freezing 10-game stretch that he finally broke Tuesday.

Maybe nine doesn’t do the trick when it comes to Horton’s slumps. Once it gets to 10, the statistical output that may have seemed to be hiding finally emerges, and does so in a big way. The Bruins can only hope that 10 proves to be the magic number once again.

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Nathan Horton makes his first goal in a long time count, Bruins beat Hurricanes 02.01.11 at 9:31 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron added to his current hot streak, while Nathan Horton scored his first goal since Jan. 3 as the Bruins defeated the Hurricanes, 3-2, on Tuesday night.

Daniel Paille also scored for the B’s, recording his first goal of the season when he tipped a Zdeno Chara shot past Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.

Tim Thomas made 24 saves on the night and improved his season record to 25-5-6. His 25 wins put him in a tie with Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller for the league lead.

The Hurricanes received goals from Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo in the first and third period, respectively.

The Bruins will return the Garden Thursday night when they face the Stars.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- To say the Bruins needed Horton to get going in an understatement. The 25-year-old had just 12 goals entering the night, and only one of those had come in the last 20 games. With Marc Savard out, the Bruins need all their guys going, and can’t depend on Patrice Bergeron to continue scoring enough for multiple people. Speaking of which…

- Bergeron continues to score enough to make up for any slumps teammates may be going through. Bergeron, who was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of the Month for January via his 17 points last month (8 G, 9 A) kicked off January in style by scoring his 17th goal of the season.

- With Adam McQuaid‘s plus-1 on the night, he is now a plus-16 on the season, good for fifth on the team. Chara was also a plus-1 and leads the Bruins with a plus-1 and leads the B’s with a plus-23 rating.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins found themselves shorthanded four times, with the last penalty, a Brad Marchand hooking call, resulting in a Carolina goal.

- Staying in the special teams department, the Bruins didn’t have a single power play over the course of the game, as the only time a Hurricanes player found the penalty box was when Jay Harrison got five for fighting following his first-period bout with Milan Lucic.

It was only the second game this season (Dec. 18 vs. Washington) in which the Bruins did not have a power play.

- Tyler Seguin played just 6:37 after he received an early benching for a shift early on that featured multiple turnovers and led to a Michael Ryder interference penalty.

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Claude Julien says Nathan Horton is ‘fine’ after leaving Bruins practice 01.31.11 at 3:46 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Nathan Horton left Monday’s practice with what he called a “stinger” on his right knee. The 25-year old skated off with trainers, though there is no concern on his or the Bruins’ part for his playing status.

“He’s fine,” Claude Julien said following practice. “It was just a precaution. … By the time he was ready to come back, we were done [with practice].”

Horton is currently in a scoring slump that has seen him produce just one goal over the last 20 games. So far, he has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in his first season in Boston.

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Preview: Bruins look to continue dominance of Panthers 01.26.11 at 7:01 am ET
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David Booth leads the Panthers with 14 goals this season. (AP)

Coming off a rare road loss in regulation Monday, the Bruins (27-15-7) return to TD Garden Wednesday to face the 22-21-5 Panthers. It is the fourth meeting between the two clubs this season, with the Bruins having won the first three. The B’s took their most recent matchup in a shootout on Dec. 27. The game remains the Bruins’ only shootout win this season.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Bruins are 12-9-3 at home this season. They have lost two of their last three games at the Garden, most recently dropping a 4-2 contest to the Sabres last Thursday.

-The Panthers are 11-13-0 on the road. Wednesday will mark just their fifth road game in January. They are 2-2-0 on the road so far this month.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- Milan Lucic has three goals over his last four games after going his 12 previous games without a goal. His continued output is key for this offense without Marc Savard getting a chance to improve to being his old self. Lucic had a hat trick agains the Panthers on Nov. 18.

- No surprise that David Booth leads the Panthers with 168 shots on goal this season. The Florida winger put 14 shots on Rask in that Nov. 18 contest. It was the lone game this season in which Booth has had double digit shots on goal, though he’s had multiple nights with nine. He’s 17th in the league in shots on goal.

- The Panthers are 0-for-13 on the power play over their last four games and are 30th in the league with an 11.4 power percentage. The B’s are third in the NHL with a 84.9 penalty kill percentage.

- In the same game that Lucic had his hat trick, Nathan Horton had three assists, which made for his season-high in points. The slumping winger has just one goal over his last 19 games.

STORLYINES GOING IN

- Tuukka Rask got his only shout of the season in the B’s 4-0 win over the Panthers on Nov. 18. He made 41 saves in the victory. On the season, Rask is just 4-10-1 despite his .923 save percentage.

- With the Canadiens taking a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night, the Bruins have an opportunity at expanding their lead in the Northeast Division four points. The B’s and Habs will have played an equal amount of games (50) at the All-Star break after the Bruins played the season’s first four months with games in hand.

- The Panthers have just one win over their last five games (1-2-2), a 4-3 victory over the Rangers Tuesday night. Florida is 3-5-0 when playing their second game in as many days.

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Nathan Horton quiet in more ways than one 01.20.11 at 10:29 pm ET
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Nathan Horton was stopped in the first period by Ryan Miller. (AP)

Nathan Horton has fought his entire career to shake the reputation of a player who “disappears” from games. After catastrophic second and third periods Thursday night that led to a couple of the Sabres’ four goals in a 4-2 Bruins loss, Horton was missing from the dressing room. He was requested by the media, but was not available for postgame comment.

It likely would have been the Boston media’s one chance at seeing an upset Horton. The 25-year-old is known for his permanent grin and his extremely friendly attitude, but after one of his more forgettable games of the season, there was no Horton — for whatever reason — to be found.

“He is doing good things, but I think right now his confidence is probably at the lowest it’s ever been, because he understands that he needs to score and it’s not happening,” Claude Julien said after the game.

After scoring 11 goals in his first 28 games, including two in the season-opener, Horton has just one goal over his last 17 games.

“I think he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself, which may not be helping him right now. I think everybody on this team — players and coaching staff — are really helping to see him score a few goals so that he can get himself going,” Julien said.

“I think that’s what’s happening right now. He’s really probably down as far as confidence is concerned and feeling the pressure.”

Zdeno Chara caught flak after making himself unavailable to the media following the team’s overtime loss to the Canadiens this month, but has redeemed himself with stellar play of late. If it can work for Horton, the famed smile may return to the winger — and a town that has spent the last couple of months confused about one of their best scorers.

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Mike Milbury on D&H: Problems loom for B’s if first line cannot improve 01.19.11 at 12:49 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said this is the best he’s seen Patrice Bergeron play. “[He's] seeing the ice, quick to the puck, totally unafraid, does all the little things right, good on the draws, goes to the front of the net, sees the ice well — there’s nothing to not like about his game,” Milbury said.

The lack of production from the first line is a concern to Milbury. “[Nathan] Horton, [Marc] Savard and [Milan] Lucic have got to find a way to put points on the board,” he said. “They’ve been winning a whole bunch of games without a lot of support from those three guys. Listen, there’s no getting around, it’s their top line. And if your top line isn’t producing the way you expect it to, you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.

“The flip side of that is, because of the balance that they now have, they’re able to do it while the first line finds their rhythm.”

Of Horton, Milbury said. “He’s yet to get fully engaged in the game on a regular basis. By that I mean hustle to loose pucks, work really hard to get there. I’ve seen him fight and he can really go, so I know he’s not afraid. But the point is — and this is the common catchword — there’s got to be more urgency to his game. He’s got to want it more. He’s got to fight for loose pucks a little bit more. He’s got to be a little bit more reckless in his game. Until he gets that, his progress is going to be checked, in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Milbury likes what he’s seeing from the fourth line. “The Bruins have as good a fourth line as there is in the game right now with [Brad] Marchand, [Gregory] Campbell and Shawn Thornton,” Milbury said. “[Campbell] plays hard every night. He’s a coach’s dream, because you know what you’re going to get shift after shift.”

As for Marchand, Milbury said: ”He uses his assets, which are his feet, and a little bit of grit to get where he needs to go. … We talk about Horton and engaging and getting the most out of what you’ve got. Well, this kid is getting all of what he can give and then some.”

Looking at the Eastern Conference, Milbury said, “I still think Pittsburgh is the team to beat, and Philly second.”

As for the Bruins, “It’s still a team that I think has yet to hit its full stride,” Milbury said. “But things have changed now for the Bruins. [Tuukka] Rask is back in the picture, [Tim] Thomas is still playing incredibly well, the defense is starting to act like it can jump into the offense or produce when it comes to getting shots on goal, and you’ve got three lines, at least right now, that are playing I think well enough to win on most nights — and they are winning on most nights. If they can ever get that first line humming, they’ve got to be be a strong candidate to come out of the Eastern Conference.”

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Tim Thomas helps Bruins past Hurricanes again 01.18.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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The Bruins beat the Hurricanes, 3-2, Tuesday night to grab their second win over Carolina in as many days.

Milan Lucic took a pass from Mark Recchi on the power play at 11:49 of the third period with the game tied at two and sent a wrist-shot past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward to secure the game-winning goal. The Bruins also got goals from Johnny Boychuk and Brad Marchand in the first and third periods, respectively.

Tim Thomas made a season-high 43 saves as the Hurricanes put 45 shots on goal. Carolina got goals from Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu.

The Bruins went 2-for-5 on the power play while killing off four of their five penalties. They will return to the Garden to face the Sabres on Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Thomas carried the Bruins throughout the night, but the second period stood out for the Vezina favorite. The Hurricanes outshot the B’s, 19-9 in the second, and on the night, Thomas made a season-high 43 saves. Thirty-seven were made in the first two periods.

- After initially being credited, having the goal taken away, and being credited once again, Boychuk finally has his first goal of the season in his 36th game. Boychuk had five in 51 games for the B’s last season.

- Lucic scored his first goal in the last 13 games when he put the B’s up, 3-2, on the power play. He continues to lead the Bruins with 17 goals.

- The members of the Wheeler-Campbell-Thornton were strong for the B’s, as Wheeler drew an elbowing penalty from Tuomo Ruutu and the line’s pressure late in the second period forced the Hurricanes to flip it over the glass in their own zone for a delay of game penalty.

- The Bruins weren’t handed too many opportunities in the second period, so they took advantage when handed one in the third. Following an icing by the Hurricanes, Mark Recchi won the face-off and Zdeno Chara threw a shot on Ward from the point, with Marchand scoring on the rebound.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Despite Marchand scoring and drawing a gift penalty from Eric Staal, he had a regrettable hooking penalty in the first period. With the B’s leading, 1-0, Marchand whiffed on a puck from right around the hashmarks, and as the play went the other way, he hooked Ian White to put the Hurricanes on the man advantage. It was on his power play that Jokinen tied it up at one.

- Nathan Horton still has just one goal over his last 16 games, as he was robbed in the second period when Ward picked his wrist-shot from the slot.

Horton, who has struggled to consistently get pucks on net, tied for the Bruins’ lead with four shots on goal on Tuesday. He had just one on Monday.

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