BOSTON The Boston Bruins gingerly tapped their sticks on the ice while medical personnel wheeled Nathan Horton out of the hushed arena through the Zamboni tunnel, his neck fixed in a brace.
Hortons teammates needed a few minutes to clear their minds after such a frightening injury in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
But when the Bruins finally got their heads together, they created an offensive avalanche that got them right back in this series.
Andrew Ference and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist during Bostons four-goal second period, Tim Thomas made 40 saves, and the Bruins beat the Canucks 8-1 on Monday night, trimming Vancouvers series lead to 2-1.
Its always tough when a guy goes down, said forward Brad Marchand, who scored a short-handed goal in the second period. We really wanted to get this win (Monday) for him. Its a very tough situation, and everyone is worried about him, but it definitely gave us motivation to win.
Game 4 is Wednesday in Boston.
Boston emerged from a three-game offensive slump after Horton was taken off the ice on a stretcher 5 minutes into the game, rendered senseless by a late hit to the head from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome.
Mark Recchi scored two goals for the Bruins, who turned a big win into a blowout with four more goals in the final 8½ minutes of the third period against beleaguered goalie Roberto Luongo, who won the first two games of the series in Vancouver.
The Bruins were one goal shy of equaling the finals record of nine goals, set by Detroit in Game 2 of the 1936 series and matched by Toronto six years later in Game 5. The eight goals were the most scored in the finals since Colorado topped Florida 8-1 on June 6, 1996, in Game 2, according to STATS LLC.
Daniel Paille scored a short-handed goal in the third, and Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder who finished with three points scored in the final 2½ minutes as the Bruins emphatically avoided a daunting 0-3 series deficit.
Jannik Hansen broke up Thomas shutout bid with 6:07 to play for the Canucks, who finally hit a major bump in their late-season roll toward their first Stanley Cup title.
In the playoffs, a loss is a loss, if you lose in OT or you lose like we did (Monday), Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin got a 10-minute misconduct late in the jarring loss for the Presidents Trophy winners, who had won seven of eight games. The Canucks had given up just six total goals in their previous four games while closing out the Western Conference finals and taking a two-game lead over Boston.
The palpable excitement of Bostons first home finals game in 21 years turned into unease just 5 minutes into Game 3.
After Horton passed the puck to Milan Lucic at the Vancouver blue line, Rome left his feet to deliver a hard shoulder check to Hortons upper chest and head. Horton appeared to be unconscious after he landed flat on his back, his arm spookily reaching up into empty space.
I think what I recall is it was a blindside hit that weve talked about taking out of the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. Thats my view on it. Let the league take care of it.
Medical personnel spent several minutes attending to Horton, who scored the Bruins winning Game 7 goals in the first round against Montreal and again in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.
I never want to see any player leave in that situation, Vigneault said. The hit seemed to be a little bit late. ... That was a head-on hit, player looking at his pass. It was a little bit late. I dont think thats the hit the league is trying to take out.
Rome got a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, with at least one fan throwing a yellow towel at the Vancouver bench while Rome went to the dressing room. The shaken Bruins didnt score on six shots on their marathon power play, with the Canucks blocking shots and diving to protect Luongo.
Just 11 seconds into the second period the same amount of time Alex Burrows needed to end overtime in Game 2 Ference threaded a long shot past Krejci and two Canucks defensemen to beat Luongo on the far side of his net.
The Bruins struggling power play finally connected 4:11 later for just its seventh goal of the postseason when Recchis centering pass hit the stick of Vancouvers Ryan Kesler, deflecting through Luongos legs.
The 43-year-old Recchi, already the oldest player to score in a finals game, added his second goal with 2:21 to play.
After Marchand created his own short-handed goal with a pass to himself off the boards, Krejci scored an easy goal on a long rebound given up by the struggling Luongo, a top contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
Thomas was sharp on the other end, with a handful of slick saves including two point-blank stops on Mason Raymond late in the second period. The goalie then got the Boston crowd on its feet with a check of Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, knocking the playoffs scoring leader flat on his back while he tried to catch a puck that popped into the air in front of his crease.
Vancouver won the first two games on its home ice, turning both games in their favor in the third period before dramatic late game-winners by Raffi Torres and Burrows.
Game 3 already essentially was over before it even got that far.
The third period turned chippy after Sedin and Ference got misconducts for a scuffle. Moments later, Bostons Shawn Thornton threw his stick up the Bruins tunnel in anger at the officials after getting his own misconduct penalty.
The clubs combined for 98 penalty minutes in the third, with Kesler and Bostons Dennis Seidenberg dropping their gloves for the first fight of the finals.