BOSTON --Nathan Horton was transported to the hospital but was moving all of his extremities after an open-ice hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome early in Boston's 8-1 victory in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.
Rome hit Horton at the Vancouver blue line in the center of the ice after Horton passed the puck to Milan Lucic on the left wing. Horton was taken of the ice on a stretcher, and Rome was assessed a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
"It's very unfortunate to see one of your teammates going down like that," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. "Nathan is such a great guy and obviously we all know that he's a great player. Somehow you have to find a way to put it behind you in the game and stay focused and play the game. The best way to get revenge is to win a game. That's what we did and now we have to wish him the best recovery and I'm sure he's going to be OK."
After losing Horton, the Bruins were unable to score on the ensuing power play and had only one shot on goal in the first period that wasn't during the five-minute man advantage. They regrouped during the first intermission, and came back with maybe their most complete performance of the postseason.
Boston scored four times in the second period, collecting goals on the power play and shorthanded, as the Bruins took control of the contest. They added four more in the third period to score the most lopsided victory in a Stanley Cup Final game in 15 years.
"We just said, 'Stay with it, do it for [Horton]' and you saw the results," Dennis Seidenberg said.
Added Mark Recchi, who scored two goals: "We talked about playing for [Horton], obviously. He's been a great teammate for us, been a great guy. It's tough see your teammate laying down there on the ice. We knew it was a late hit. But we're more concerned about his health at this time. The League can take care of the rest."
Replays showed Rome's hit came a full second after Horton passed the puck away. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said it was a "head-on hit" but members of the Bruins disagreed.
Added Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin: "It's not fun. I hope he's OK. It's never fun to see a player go down like that. I haven't really seen the replay but what I saw out there was a late hit. I didn't think it was a blind side. I think we were all in the same kind of mood. You don't like to see a guy lay there like that. Rome is a really honest player. A little late maybe, but that's it."
Boston players said they didn't know any more about Horton after the game than the update that was provided on the scoreboard late in the first period.
The Bruins award a vintage jacket to the most valuable player after wins. It was hanging in Horton's stall after the game.
"Your immediate concern is for your teammate," Andrew Ference said. "It is not for yourself about missing a guy -- it is about a guy’s health being taken care of. That's first and foremost. Until we know the status of that, you don't really start thinking about the hockey side of it until we know he's alright."
Rich Peverley took Horton's place on the top line next to Lucic and David Krejci. If Horton is unable to play in Game 4, it is possible rookie Tyler Seguin will draw back into the lineup after missing Game 3 to make room for Thornton.
Depth at forward is one of the top strengths for the Bruins, but they would miss Horton. He had 26 goals in the regular and has 8 more in the playoffs, including the two game-winners in Boston's Game 7 victories against Montreal and Tampa Bay.
"Well, I mean, we lost a pretty good player," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We'll have to move some players around. Right now I haven't really made my roster up for next game. I can't give you that answer right now. But we'll find solutions. We always do. We'll try and get the best fit for that line by next game."