After two games decided by the slimmest of margins, both in favour of Vancouver, the Boston Bruins left no doubt about the result of Game Three, blowing out the Canucks, 8-1.
The game started with a good pace, but took a nasty turn at the 5:07 mark of the first period when Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome delivered a way late KO headshot to Nathan Horton, giving the Bruins a five-minute power play, sending Horton to the hospital and earning Rome an early shower.
Of course, the Bruins' power play couldn't connect and the first period ended scoreless. The second period was a different story, however, as the Bruins scored 11 seconds into the period on their way to scoring four times to take a commanding lead.
It was more of the same in the third period, with four more goals for Boston, though Vancouver's Jannik Hansen scored with 6:07 remaining to break Tim Thomas' shutout bid. It was the only time Thomas was beaten on 41 shots in Game Three.
It was the third time in this year's playoffs that Thomas has recorded at least 40 saves and he's now 8-0 in this year's postseason when he has at least 34 saves. Thomas' most crowd-pleasing play of the night may have been when he delivered a full-out bodycheck, as he did in the second period to Henrik Sedin at the top of the Boston goal crease.
Left in the game for the full 60 minutes, Roberto Luongo surrendered eight goals in a game for the first time since April 1, 2010.
Boston's penalty-killing was a factor in the game, killing off eight Vancouver power plays and scoring two shorthanded goals. The first, by Brad Marchand, was a spectacular rush, attacking on the right wing at top speed, holding the puck long enough as he crossed in front of the net to have a gaping cage over a prone Roberto Luongo.
Rome's ejection left the Canucks with five defencemen for about 55 minutes, resulting in the top four -- Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, Alexander Edler and Sami Salo -- to each play more than 22:58. Ehrhoff's 27:53 time on ice was his most ice time in a non-overtime game in this year's playoffs and it was the second time in this year's playoffs that he ended a game with a minus-3.
For the first time in his career, Alexander Edler finished with a minus-4. It was also the first time since October, 5, 2007 that Ryan Kesler was minus-3 in a game.
If Rome gets suspended, and the hit was late enough to warrant it, Keith Ballard would figure to get back into the Vancouver lineup.
Conversely, assuming that Horton's not due back anytime soon, Tyler Seguin would figure to get back into the lineup after he was replaced for Game Three by Shawn Thornton.
Who will get the spot on right wing of the top line, with David Krejci and Milan Lucic? Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley both saw time there after Horton left the game.
Ryder led the Bruins with a goal and two assists for three points, though his goal was on the power play with 31 seconds remaining, when the game was long since decided. Nevertheless, Ryder was one of seven Bruins with a multi-point night, including Mark Recchi, who scored two goals.
For his part, Krejci had a goal and an assist, giving him a playoff-high 11 goals and his 20 points leaves him one behind Henrik Sedin for the playoff lead.
Game Three was full of bad news for the Canucks, but most troubling might be that Henrik Sedin has been held off the scoresheet in all three games in this series and, even though Henrik isn't the shooter, he doesn't even have a shot on net in three games. Only once all season, in a three-game stretch in late November, did Henrik Sedin have three consecutive games without a shot on goal.
As the game started to degenerate in the third period, the referees ended up handing out a number of misconducts and, by the time the game ended, nine players had at least ten minutes in penalties.
So, the Bruins didn't curl up in a ball after losing two games in heartbreaking fashion in Vancouver, and showed that they can give the Canucks all they can handle and then some. Presumably going forward without their second-leading playoff scorer, Horton, the job gets more difficult, but the Bruins ought to feel emboldened by how well they played in Game Three -- they have a chance to hold serve with a similar effort in Game Four.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.