BOSTON — It took Nathan Horton six years to make the playoffs.
Once he got there, he showed the value of patience.
Horton scored his second overtime goal of the postseason Wednesday night, waiting until 5:43 of the extra period in Game 7 to give Boston a 4-3 victory over the Canadiens and help the Bruins advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"Just getting to the playoffs is all I was really thinking about. This has been a dream come true," said Horton, who never reached the postseason while spending his first six seasons with Florida. "I'm really enjoying it. I'm enjoying it more every day."
Boston will open conference semifinals Saturday in Philadelphia with a chance to avenge last year's epic collapse against the Flyers. The Bruins led that series 3-0 before Philadelphia came back to force a decisive game; in Game 7 in Boston, the Bruins led 3-0 before losing 4-3.
"I get at least until midnight before I've got to start thinking about that," said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who had 34 saves.
Horton scored on his only shot of the night off a pass from Milan Lucic, setting off a celebration on the Bruins bench and in the stands. It was Boston's third overtime win in the series, including Game 5 on Saturday night when Horton scored 9:03 into the second extra period.
"He's been saving it for seven years, right?" Bruins coach Claude Julien said with a smile. "So he had a lot of game-winning goals in him."
Carey Price made 30 saves for Montreal erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 but never led the game.
Boston was 0 for 21 on the power play in the series and became the first NHL team to win a seven-game series without a power-play goal.
First—1, Boston, Boychuk 1 (Marchand, Bergeron), 3:31. 2, Boston, Recchi 1 (Ference), 5:33. 3, Montreal, Weber 2 (Hamrlik, Cammalleri), 9:49 (pp). Penalties—Ryder, Bos (hooking), 8:22; Thornton, Bos (elbowing), 16:02; Kostitsyn, Mon (high-sticking), 17:59.
Second—4, Montreal, Plekanec 2, 5:50 (sh). Penalties—Eller, Mon (cross-checking), 4:41; Boychuk, Bos (boarding), 18:12.
Third—5, Boston, Kelly 3 (Ference, Peverley), 9:44. 6, Montreal, Subban 2 (Plekanec, Gionta), 18:03 (pp). Penalties—Bergeron, Bos (high-sticking), 17:23. First Overtime—7, Boston, Horton 3 (Lucic, McQuaid), 5:43. Penalties—None. Shots—Montreal 9-12-11-5—37. Boston 9-7-13-5—34. Power plays—Montreal 2 of 4; Boston 0 of 2. Goalies—Montreal, Price 3-4-0 (34 shots-30 saves). Boston, Thomas 4-3-0 (37-34). A—17,565 (17,565). T—2:58. Referees—Tim Peel, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen—Pierre Racicot, Jean Morin.
Late Tuesday: Canucks feel golden
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — To understand how big it was for the Canucks to finally knock the Blackhawks out of the playoffs, you just had to talk to their Olympians.
Alex Burrows scored his second goal 5:22 into overtime, Roberto Luongo made 31 saves and the Canucks avoided a historic playoff collapse by beating the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1 in Game 7 of their first-round series late Tuesday.
After being eliminated from the last two playoffs by Chicago, Luongo compared the victory to his gold medal for Canada in the same building 14 months earlier.
"I don't know, this one might be better than the Olympics," Luongo said.
American Ryan Kesler, who lost that Olympic final to Luongo, said he wanted this game more than the gold medal.
"We needed to get over this hump," Kesler said.
Also, the league fined Canucks general manager Mike Gillis an undisclosed amount for complaining about the officiating during the series.
BRAIN STUDY: NHL Alumni and a Toronto neuroscience institute are teaming up on a study to track the brain health of retired players. The Rotman Research Institute is recruiting former NHL players to participate in the study. The aim is to identify risk factors linked to cognitive decline and mental health changes as the players age. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found 559 concussions during regular-season games from 1997 to 2004.
SELKE TROPHY: Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who has won the Frank Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward the past three years, is one of three finalists. Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Chicago's Jonathan Toews are the other nominees for the award, which will be announced at the NHL awards banquet June 22 in Las Vegas.
PANTHERS: Defenseman Keaton Ellerby signed a one-year, one-way contract. He had two goals and 10 assists this season.