More controversy at the Stanley Cup finals.
The Boston Bruins road back into the series got a little tougher in Monday’s Game 3, as the team’s second leading scorer left the game on a stretcher five minutes into what became an 8-1 win.
After dishing the puck to a teammate while skating towards the offensive blueline, Bruins winger Nathan Horton was hit late by Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome and knocked unconscious.
Horton lay prone on the ice for several minutes, holding one arm up in the air initially before medical personnel was able to attend to him. (He briefly tried to get up off the ice but was restrained.)
Horton was taken off on a stretcher, and the Bruins provided an update during the first period which said he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and has movement in all his extremities.
"He's a tough guy, he's a warrior," teammate Milan Lucic said after the game. "He's been one of if not our best forward so far in the playoffs and it was good to hear in the first intermission that he was doing okay. Definitely it was something that he would have wanted for us to step up and get that win for him."
Rome, meanwhile, was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit. Vancouver killed the penalty but had to play the rest of the game with five defencemen.
Rome will have a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. and is facing a suspension for Wednesday’s Game 4.
"It was a blindside hit that we've talked about taking out of the game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He made the pass. It was late. He came from the blindside. Whether it's through the motion of the hit, it appeared he left his feet a little bit.
"That's my view on it. I'm not going to comment more than that. Say what I always say: Let the league take care of it. We're trying to clean that out."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault disagreed, saying he didn't believe the play warranted a suspension.
“Obviously you never want to see any player to be in that situation," Vigneault said. "I think our whole team and myself hopes that he’s all right. The hit obviously seemed to be a little bit late and he got five minutes for interference and he was kicked out of the game.
"That hit was a head on hit, the player looking at his pass, it was a little bit late, I don't think that's the hit that the league's trying to take out of the game," he added. "This is a physical game, we've got big guys, a fraction of a second to decide what's happening out there. It's very unfortunate, like I said, you never want to see that."
If Horton is out for a prolonged period, it could be a big blow to the Bruins, as he was playing on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. His absence, however, turned into a rallying point for Boston.
"We said between periods let's win it for Horton," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton told reporters.
"We talked about it, the fact that Horty is at the hospital right now probably obviously hoping that we win the game," Julien said. "But more than anything else, we were concerned about his welfare. Hopefully it's not too bad."
"I can't answer that," Vigneault said when asked if the hit was a turning point. "I'm not in their shoes or in their room."