First, Aaron Rome blew up Nathan Horton. Then, the Boston Bruins blew out the Vancouver Canucks.
The Bruins scored four times in the second period and waltzed to a 8-1 victory over Vancouver in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday. Boston trails the best-of-seven NHL series 2-1, and plays host to Game 4 on Wednesday at TD Garden, after a nasty contest that featured seven 10-minute misconducts.
"That overtime loss [in Game 2] a lot of people thought that was devastating," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. "But our team's been through a lot this year."
The Black and Gold erased an 0-2 deficit in the first round to beat the Montreal Canadiens, but will likely be without Horton, who left the game after a vicious hit from Rome, for the foreseeable future.
"We were pretty pumped up anyway, but [Rome's hit on Horton]makes you bring it a little more," Bruins winger Shawn Thornton said.
Michael Ryder had a goal and two assists, 43-year-old Mark Recchi scored twice, and five other Bruins had two-point games. Goaltender Tim Thomas was excellent again. He made 40 saves, and was only beaten by Jannik Hansen well after the victory was secured.
Boston scored four times in the first 16 minutes of the second, and had two short-handed goals. The Canucks, meanwhile, had their worst showing since Game 5 of a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"We have to focus and play hockey," captain Henrik Sedin said after the emotions had cooled down.
Vancouver went 0-for-8 with the man-advantage, and squandered a four-minute opportunity when Johnny Boychuk was handed a double-minor for high-sticking.
A telling sequence came seven minutes into the third period, when Thomas shoved Henrik Sedin to the ground in the low slot, and a few seconds later, Andrew Ference dropped Daniel Sedin and drew some rare frustration from the normally placid Canucks winger. Both players were given 10-minute misconducts, and Thornton received his own misconduct just a few minutes later.
Early in the first period, Thornton was the first Bruins player to go after Vancouver forward Alex Burrows, who drew Boston's ire for biting Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game 1, and having a three-point night in Game 2.
But Thornton wasn't the last, and in the third period, big winger Milan Lucic waved his fingers near Burrows's mouth, and mockingly tried to put them in the latter's trap. That was after Lucic punched him in the face and the back of the head.
The first period ended scoreless, but featured the frightening hit on Horton. Rome delivered an illegal check on the unsuspecting Bruins forward at the Vancouver blueline. Horton left the game on a stretcher, and Rome was assessed a five-minute penalty for interference, and a game misconduct.
Even Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and captain Henrik Sedin admitted the hit was late.
"That's the stuff we're trying to get out of the game," Thornton said.
Horton was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, and had movement in all extremities after laying motionless on the ice for several minutes. The Bruins failed to capitalize on the five-minute power play.
Andrew Ference started the scoring with a goal just 11 seconds into the middle frame. Recchi received credit for the second goal after his centring pass deflected off Ryan Kesler and past Roberto Luongo.
Brad Marchand notched a short-handed tally and David Krejci scored his 11th of the postseason before the second period was over. In the third, Daniel Paille put a bow on matters with a short-handed goal, while Recchi, Ryder and Chris Kelly added goals deep into garbage time.