Horton, Kaberle at their best

BOSTON -- After a sluggish first 15 minutes Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, the Boston Bruins regrouped and finished with a much-needed 4-1 victory on the strength of a total team effort.

While Bruins coach Claude Julien complimented his team for a solid effort, he was especially happy with the play of forward Nathan Horton and defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

While Horton’s name did not show up on the score sheet, he played probably one of his most physical games of the season. He was getting involved and really agitating the opposition to the point where he almost took it too far and nearly dropped the gloves with the Devils’ Henrik Tallinder during a Boston power play in the second period.

“Nathan is good when he’s got a chip on his shoulder, as long as he doesn’t cross the line,” Julien said. “I like the way he plays when he plays like that because he’s a strong individual and he wins battles. He’s certainly one of those guys who brings that presence to the ice, not only physically, but also on the score sheet. He’s a dangerous guy when he’s playing with an edge.”

The Bruins acquired Horton in a trade during the offseason for the purpose of boosting the offense, and he’s done that. He has 20 goals and 26 assists in 70 games, but when he plays with that edge, he becomes a more complete player.

“He played with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion,” Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton said. “It’s good to see. Everyone in here was aware what was going on coming into this game, so he tried to take it upon himself to create some emotion for the team. He’s been a great player for us all year.”

Kaberle, acquired at the trade deadline in February from Toronto, was brought in to be the puck-moving defenseman the Bruins desperately needed. He was supposed to boost the power play too. But Boston entered Tuesday’s game 1 for its last 29 on the man-advantage. Against the Devils, Kaberle notched two assists, including one on the winning goal, which came on the power play.

“We’ve been able to move the puck well, not stationary and stuff,” Kaberle said. “When you move the puck, good things are going to happen. You don’t have to score, just collect chances and be there, and eventually you’re going to get your chances.”

Overall, Kaberle seemed a lot more comfortable on the ice.

“He played with more jump to his game,” Julien said. “He was proactive, and he brought some good offense to our game as well. They weren’t giving us much space out there, so he was taking the space that was given to him, and that really helped our team a lot. To me, it was a really solid game from him. Arguably, probably his best.”