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.

Horton’s teammates needed a few minutes to clear their minds after such a frightening injury in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

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 Boston’s four-goal second period, Tim Thomas made 40 saves, and the Bruins beat the Canucks 8-1 on Monday night, trimming Vancouver’s series lead to 2-1.

“It’s 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 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.

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.

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.

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 tonight,” 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 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.

“I think what I recall is it was a blindside hit that we’ve talked about taking out of the game,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien said. “That’s my view on it. Let the league take care of it. We’re trying to clean that part of the game out.”

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. I don’t think that’s 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 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.

Recchi, at 43 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.