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Stanley Cup finals Game 3: Bruins' Horton moving extremities at hospital after ugly hit by Aaron Rome

June 6, 2011 |  6:33 pm

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A late and vicious hit by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome to the head of Boston winger Nathan Horton dominated the scoreless opening period at TD Garden.

The only question after the severity of Horton's injuries is how severe Rome’s punishment will be, not if he will be punished. Horton, who was carried off the ice on a stretcher, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and was moving all of his extremities, according to the Bruins. This will be a bellwether moment for the NHL, which has tried to crack down on blindside blows to the head. The ruling likely will be made by Mike Murphy, the league's senior vice president of hockey operations.

Horton was crossing the Canucks’ blue line when Rome, moving his body in an upward motion, slammed his left shoulder into Horton’s head well after Horton had passed the puck. Horton fell backward and his helmeted head hit the ice with terrifying force; he was flat on his back for several minutes while medical personnel attended to him.

Rome was initially sent to the penalty box but was soon sent to the locker room with the boos of the fans at TD Garden ringing in his ears. He got a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.

According to Canada's TSN network, the hit occurred nearly a full second after Horton released the puck. TSN measured the hit at 28 frames after the puck was released, with 30 frames comprising a full second. The NHL's usual standard for late hits is if they occur more than a half-second after the puck is released.

The rap sheet is lengthening for the Canucks, who don’t have to play dirty but seem intent on making their skill secondary to their stupidity. In Game 1, winger Alexandre Burrows bit the gloved fingers of Boston center Patrice Bergeron; in Game 2, center Maxim Lapierre thrust his fingers in Bergeron’s face and taunted him, daring Bergeron to bite the fingers.

The Bruins didn’t score on that power play. The Canucks also had a power play but didn’t capitalize.

The Canucks had 12 shots in the first period to seven for the Bruins.

Check back later for more at www.latimes.com/sports

--Helene Elliott, in Boston

Photo: Boston's Nathan Horton slides to a stop on the ice after a devastating hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press

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