Shortly after the Boston Bruins lost Nathan Horton to a frightening injury, they found a dazzling offensive rhythm that got them back into the Stanley Cup finals.
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Andrew Ference and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist during Boston’s four-goal second period, Tim Thomas made 40 saves, and the Bruins beat the Canucks 8-1 in Game 3 on Monday night, trimming Vancouver’s series lead to 2-1.
Mark Recchi scored two goals for the Bruins, who turned a big win into a blowout with four more goals in the final 8 1/2 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 in a game, 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.
Boston emerged from its offensive slump after Horton was taken off the ice on a stretcher in the first period after taking a late hit to the head from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome.
”It’s always tough when a guy goes down,” said forward Brad Marchand, who scored a short-handed goal. ”We really wanted to get this win tonight for him. It’s a very tough situation, and everyone is worried about him, but it definitely gave us motivation to win.”
Game 4 is Wednesday in Boston.
Marchand scored a short-handed goal in the second period, and Daniel Paille added another short-handed goal in the third. Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder — who finished with three points — scored in the final 2 1/2 minutes as the Bruins emphatically avoided a daunting 0-3 series deficit.
Boston had managed just three goals in its previous 10 periods before torching Luongo, who stopped 30 shots. Boston hadn’t even scored six goals in a finals game since May 5, 1970, in Game 2 against St. Louis on the way to their last championship.
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.
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 Boston’s 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 Horton’s upper chest and head. Horton appeared to be unconscious after he landed flat on his back, his arm spookily reaching up into empty space.
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. The crowd gave a standing ovation as Horton was wheeled off the ice, wearing a neck brace and apparently talking.
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 didn’t score on six shots on their marathon power play, with the Canucks blocking shots and diving to protect Luongo.
The Boston crowd rose and cheered several minutes later when a scoreboard message told them Horton could move his arms and legs when he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Boston fans already were upset with the Canucks after two bad-tempered games in Vancouver, including Alex Burrows’ apparent bite on Patrice Bergeron’s finger during Game 1. The bite was still on the minds of both teams, with players from both teams taunting their opponents by pointing their index finger at another player’s mouth.
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 Recchi’s centering pass hit the stick of Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, deflecting through Luongo’s 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 two-handed 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 Thomas’ 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 was essentially over before it even got that far.
The third period turned chippy after Sedin and Ference got misconducts for a scuffle. Moments later, Boston’s 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 Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg dropping their gloves for the first fight of the finals.
Boston was buzzing for the first June home game in Bruins history, along with their first Stanley Cup finals game at TD Garden, which wasn’t open when Boston made its last trip in 1990. Bruins fans filled the downtown streets — but so did Vancouver fans, who wore their club’s blue jerseys while filling hundreds of seats in the lower bowl.
NOTES: The Bruins won Game 3 in all four of their postseason series. … Boston coach Claude Julien made one lineup change for Game 3, scratching rookie Tyler Seguin and inserting Thornton. The 19-year-old Seguin hadn’t scored since the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, and Julien limited the No. 2 overall pick’s ice time in the first two games in Vancouver. … Vancouver C Manny Malhotra played his second straight game since returning from a career-threatening eye injury. He even took the opening draw, but the faceoff specialist lost it to Bergeron. Malhotra played 14:58. … Boston had won just five total games in its previous five trips to the finals since its last championship in 1972. … Vancouver’s Green Men superfans had seats halfway up the lower bowl on the end of the ice, but they had little to celebrate. A Boston fan patted one of the bodysuited fans on the head after Boston’s fourth goal.