Boston's Nathan Horton falls to the ice after a vicious hit by Vancouver's… (Elsa / Getty Images )
From Boston — The Stanley Cup finals took a turn toward ugly with a detour through frightening Monday when a vicious hit by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome sent Boston winger Nathan Horton to the hospital on a stretcher.
Banding together in Horton's absence, the Bruins scored four times in the second period and four times in a contentious third period for an 8-1 victory that cut the Canucks' series lead to two games to one. A league spokesman said Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, is reviewing the hit, which means Rome is likely to face a hearing on Tuesday. The finals resume Wednesday at TD Garden.
Boston's Shawn Thornton branded it a head shot and added, "I think as players, that the culture of the game, that's the stuff we need to get out of the game."
Horton's teammates placed in his locker the beat-up vintage Bruins jacket customarily given to their best player.
"First intermission we just told ourselves that we were going to do it for Horty and that just gave us more motivation to do well and play harder," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said.
Horton was crossing the Canucks' blue line and had released a pass to his left when Rome slammed his left shoulder into Horton's head. Horton fell backward and hit his helmeted head hard on the ice, remaining motionless for several minutes while medical personnel treated him at 5:07 of the first period. Rome got a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
The Bruins said Horton was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and was able to move all of his extremities. That news triggered roars when announced to the sellout crowd of 17,965.
Bruins Coach Claude Julien said the blow was "a blindside hit that we've talked about taking out of the game. … We're trying to clean that out."
Predictably, Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault said the hit was unfortunate but a product of a physical game. "That hit was a head-on hit, player looking at his pass," he said. "It was a little bit late. I don't think that's the hit that the league is trying to take out of the game."
The rap sheet is lengthening for the Canucks. In Game 1 winger Alex Burrows bit the gloved fingers of Boston center Patrice Bergeron; in Game 2, center Maxim Lapierre thrust his fingers in Bergeron's face and taunted him.
Both teams lost their poise late Monday and received seven misconduct penalties. Bruins winger Milan Lucic pointed his fingers toward Burrows' mouth and taunted him during a scrum, which he acknowledged was "classless" after being scolded by Julien. The final tally was 60 penalty minutes for the Canucks and 65 minutes for the Bruins.
A scoreless game turned into the most lopsided finals game since an 8-1 victory by Colorado over Florida in 1996 and only the third finals game decided by seven goals or more since 1927. Jannik Hansen's goal with 6:07 left in the final period was the Canucks' only success in 41 shots against goaltender Tim Thomas; by choice, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo stayed in for the full game. Michael Ryder had a goal and two assists and 43-year-old Mark Recchi contributed two goals as the Bruins scored twice while shorthanded and twice on the power play.
"We didn't play good enough as a team," Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin said. "They played their best hockey."
Sedin insisted he preferred a blowout loss to the one-goal margins the Bruins lost by in Games 1 and 2.
"This can turn in our favor if we treat it the right way and learn something from it," he said.
Now, it's the NHL's turn to do the right thing and suspend Rome for at least one game.