Horton: 'Nice to be back'

BOSTON -- After nearly a full calendar year without playing in a NHL game, Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton showed no ill effects Saturday night at TD Garden, helping the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers.

Horton last played on Jan. 22, 2012 after suffering his second concussion in a seven-month spa.

Horton proved to be in great shape and his performance never dropped off for the entire game. There are certain aspects where he needs to work on his timing, but overall, he played well long with his linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

“I made a couple of mistakes, but I thought I was working hard and all this stuff is going to come,” Horton said. “But I did have a lot of fun out there and it’s definitely nice to be back.”

After the game, Horton admitted he was sore, but following a brief practice Sunday morning as the team prepares to host the Winnipeg Jets Monday afternoon at the Garden, Horton said his body quickly recovered, which is a good sign.

“Nathan was going into the corners, battling and he didn’t fear anything,” explained coach Claude Julien. “When a guy hasn’t played in a year for concussion reasons, those are good signs. Conditioning-wise, I think he did a great job of keeping the pace up from start to finish.

“Right now he’s skating and he’s going to get his opportunities. He seems focused. He seems really determined this year to come back and have a real good year for himself and for our team. He’s happy to be back and he’s in the right frame of mind.”

Horton was solid in all three zones and it was evident he was ready to deliver and receive contact. He was buzzing all around the ice and proved he’s healthy.

“I feel like I’m in good shape, Horton said. “My legs are moving. My legs feel good and I just need to keep on working on shooting the puck, but overall I feel really good.”

Adrenaline levels were high for players on both teams Saturday night, but that was especially true for Horton.

“I had a lot of energy in the third,” he said. “I was still enjoying myself. I just want to concentrate on moving my feet at all times, with or without the puck, and get in on the forecheck, fight for that puck and go to the net. I feel real strong, like I can stand in front of the net and people can’t move me. That’s where I want to be because that’s where a lot of the goals are scored.”