The Bruins love Nathan Horton as, by all accounts, he’s one of the best teammates any NHL player could ask for. When he plays like he did on Thursday night, however, he must be their favorite guy in the world. The big forward with the even bigger smile played his best game of the season, scoring two goals and leading the Bruins to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning to open a two-game swing through Florida, a trip that has given the B’s fits in the past. The Bruins have to hope that the two-goal outburst can really get Horton going, with the schedule about to pick up. Horton has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but he’s struggled to put together a stretch of dominant hockey like he’s shown the ability to do in the past. It was certainly a great way for Horton bounce out of a two-game slump of sorts, a stretch in which he was a combined minus-4 with seven shots combined. “He played a pretty solid game tonight, and he scored some big goals,” Boston head coach Claude Julien said after the win. “So hopefully that’s great for his confidence and great for that line and hopefully we can move forward from here.” Horton’s linemates certainly deserve some credit as well. While both David Krejci and Milan Lucic were held pointless on the evening, both played strong games, doing the little things that helped put Horton in a position to be successful offensively on a night where Horton put six shots on Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback. “It’s nice to finally get on the board again,” Krejci said. “Horts had two, and he could have had three. I’m sure he’s gonna have another chance to get a hat trick.” Maybe it was seeing a familiar foe across the ice that helped Horton break out. He’s tortured the Lightning dating back to his days with Florida, and that continued on Thursday. With the pair of goals, Horton now has 26 goals and 20 assists in 45 career games against the Bolts.

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