He even saw the Bruins rally to score their first goal of the night and cut Carolina's lead to one just 29 seconds after Chris Kelly got the Garden rocking with a rare fight midway through the third period on Tuesday. Horton tried to continue the roughhousing tactics 31 seconds later, but this time it backfired.
Horton was suckered into dropping the gloves with Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason, who turtled to draw the penalty. Horton did hold back, though, throwing a few punches and ragdolling the unwilling Gleason. Gleason had the last laugh, though, as Horton was called for a roughing double minor and a 10-minute misconduct, ending Horton's night and giving the Hurricanes a four-minute power play.
"Obviously I didn't like that I took a four-minute penalty," Horton said after practice on Wednesday. "I was a little frustrated. I thought he wanted to fight, so I turned around and waited for him and he kept acting like he was going to. But it was not the right time. I know that. But it was just out of frustration I guess."
Horton was surprised by Gleason's actions. The rugged Carolina blueliner has been a willing combatant in the past, and Horton felt he had accepted the invitation on this occasion as well.
"I don't know what he was thinking," Horton said. "I just thought he wanted to [fight] because he slashed me and I turned around and he was right there. He was looking at me the whole time and I thought he nodded his head. Again, it's my fault. I can't be taking penalties like that, especially after we had just scored."
Horton's outburst was just the start of Boston's unraveling. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg each took penalties in the next minute, and Carolina scored a pair of 5-on-3 goals to put the game out of reach at 4-1. Horton did not speak to the media after the game, but faced the music on Monday and was contrite for his lapse in judgment.
"It's just being frustrated, that's what took over there," Horton said. "It's not something that I want to do, especially at that time of the game. It was just a tough one that probably shouldn't have happened."
Horton has gotten off to a slow start this season, with just one goal and one assist through six games. The Bruins as a team have scored just 11 goals so far this year, stumbling out of the gate with a 2-4-0 record. The mounting frustration over his own slump and the team's struggles, combined with some questionable Carolina hits and the Hurricanes' refusal to answer the bell when called on them, finally combined to produce Horton's meltdown.
"I think it was just everything," Horton said. "The way I'm playing. The way we're not scoring. Me personally and the team, we're just not playing the way we want to play. It was a little bit of frustration there, but it was a bad time obviously. I didn't mean to hurt my team there, but that's the way it happened and I can't change it now."
Horton is far from alone in the mounting frustration being felt among the Bruins. Boston was called for 17 penalties for 72 minutes on Tuesday, which doesn't include the ejection of coach Claude Julien late in the third period. Overcoming that frustration and channeling their anger and energy in a more positive direction is the primary focus for the Bruins as they look to snap out of the early funk.
"I don't think there's anybody in that room that can put their arm up and say, 'Listen, I'm at my best right now.' So we're fighting through it together," Julien said. "Right now I think our biggest challenge is dealing with the frustration of what you saw [Tuesday]."