The Boston Bruins were the lowest scoring team in the Eastern Conference last season. Nathan Horton is trying to help them change that in 2010-11.
Horton will try to overcome a long layoff and continue his strong start when the Bruins return from Europe to visit the slumping New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Boston (1-1-0) finished last season with 206 goals. Only Calgary (204) had fewer. That prompted the Bruins to acquire Horton, who has scored at least 20 goals in five straight seasons, in a three-player trade from Florida during the offseason.
"Boston is hockey, it's sports. It's fun to be a Boston Bruin," said Horton, who netted 20 goals in 65 games in 2009-10.
Horton is already making his presence felt with his new club, with three goals and an assist in the season's first two games. He found the back of the net and also assisted on Milan Lucic's first goal of the season in Sunday's 3-0 win over Phoenix in Prague, Czech Republic.
"I think the one thing is he's a goal scorer, but if you look at his physique, he's a pretty strong individual and you're not going to push him around or move him around that easily," coach Claude Julien told the Bruins' official website.
Horton is fitting in nicely on a line with Lucic and center David Krejci, whose three assists have all come on goals by his linemates -- two by Horton.
The Bruins feel the jaunt overseas, which included a pair of preseason games and a 5-3, season-opening loss to the Coyotes last Saturday, helped build team unity.
"When you are at home, you're still a tight group, but everyone has families and everyone has their own stuff going on," left wing Shawn Thornton said. "So when you get to a situation where you are in a different country for that amount of days, you're forced to hang out with each other and that's a good thing."
The Bruins went 1-2-1 against the Devils (1-3-1) last season, winning 1-0 in the final meeting in Newark, N.J. on March 30.
Horton hasn't scored in his last nine games in New Jersey.
The Devils, who have dropped all three of their home games, are trying to avoid their worst home start since losing six in a row to open the 1983-84 season. They fell 3-2 to Colorado on Friday despite holding a 43-22 shot advantage.
"I think, we take a lot of shots and maybe we need to create a little more traffic in front of the net," Ilya Kovalchuk said. "We've got to be much better."
Kovalchuk is doing his part offensively with two goals and three assists in five games, including one of each Friday.
The superstar right wing has 21 goals and 18 assists in 33 games against Boston.
The Devils may give Martin Brodeur another start in net after he made 19 saves Friday. He's 9-2-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average in his last 12 games against the Bruins, going 5-1-1 at home in that span.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner has a 3.00 GAA and a shutout through five games.