The Boston Bruins have punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1990.
It’s all thanks to Nathan Horton’s goal with only 7:33 left in the third period that lifted the Bruins to a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final on Friday night in Boston.
David Krejci passed the puck from the left circle to Horton in front of the net and the 25-year-old right-winger buried it past Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Tim Thomas stopped all 24 shots he faced for his third career playoff shutout and his second in the series.
Roloson was also solid between the pipes, making 37 saves, including 15 in the first period alone.
Boston is now on its way to Vancouver to face the Canucks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final on Wednesday.
The Bruins are 8-0 this post-season when Horton scores. That’s not bad considering Horton hadn’t even played in a single NHL playoff game prior to joining the Bruins from the Florida Panthers last year.
It was also the first time Roloson lost an elimination game in eight tries but the 41-year-old netminder could hardly be blamed for Friday night’s loss.
Milan Lucic nearly opened the scoring late in the first when Krejci sent him in all alone but Lucic was denied by Roloson. The Tampa goalie also made several key saves in the second period, stopping Mark Recchi on a pair of point blank shots.
There was a scare for the Lightning early in the second period when Johnny Boychuk fired a one-timer that hit Steven Stamkos right in the face. But just over five minutes later, the 2008 first overall pick was back on the bench wearing a cage instead of a visor.
While Roloson stood on his head all night, there was no way he was able to stop Krejci’s tape-to-tape pass to Horton that sent the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy.
The Bruins were keen on protecting their marginal lead and Thomas only faced two shots after Horton’s goal.
Boston hasn’t won the Cup since 1972 when the team was led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. The Bruins have been to the final five times since then, coming up short every time.