It might have been understandible had Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final devolved into a scene out of “Slapshot” after the Bruins lost popular forward Nathan Horton to a vicious (and very likely suspension-worthy) hit by the Canucks’ Aaron Rome just a few minutes into the first period.
While there might have been more than a small temptation to retaliate physically as they awaited word on the condition of their teammate — he remained prone on the ice for several minutes before being carried off on a stretcher — they instead made their point in a much more effective manner.
They pummeled the Canucks on the scoreboard.
While the Bruins and those in TD Garden arena were made aware before the first period was done that Horton, a first-line forward with three winning goals among his eight this postseason, had been taken to Mass General and had movement in all of his extremities — they never relented in dropping the hammer on the Canucks, scoring four times in the second period and four more in the third in their 8-1 win.
Afterward, the sentiment among Bruins was the same: They did it for their injured teammate.
“We talked about playing for Horty,” said Mark Recchi, who had a pair of goals, including one on the power play for the second straight game. “He’s been a great teammate all year for us, been a great guy. It’s tough to 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.”
Rome, who was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, reportedly has a hearing with the league at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault sounded as if he wouldn’t be surprised by a suspension, saying after the game, “The hit obviously seemed to be a little bit late, so . . . ”
Rome appeared to take two full strides before going high on a helpless Horton, who had just passed to Milan Lucic on his left.
“Obviously that’s something we try to get rid of in the game,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “It’s very unfortunate when you see one of your teammates laying there on the ice like that. So it’s up to the league to make a decision.”
Shawn Thornton, who returned to the Bruins lineup tonight in place of rookie Tyler Seguin, was more blunt.
“That’s the [expletive] we need to get out of the game.”