BOSTON (CBS) – If he wants to have any friends left that don’t play or root for the Bruins, Shawn Thornton might want to change his approach to the fight game.
Luckily for the Bruins, their rugged right winger doesn’t have any intentions of considering his personal relationship with anyone that pushes him over the line. He showed that in Boston’s 5-3 win over Winnipeg Tuesday night at the TD Garden when he pummeled former Bruins teammate Mark Stuart after a goalmouth scrum.
“He cleared me out of the front of the net there after the whistle. I took exception to it,” said Thornton. “He’s a good friend of mine, he’s a character guy, he’s a guy that I was sad to see leave here. But at the same time, he knew that I’d probably be pushing back and he’s the type of guy that’ll stand up for himself. So I just wasn’t going to let him take liberties on me, I figured I’d push back and we went. It’s as simple as that. I’ll still buy him a beer after the game if I see him.”
Thornton On Penalty Shot, Fighting Stuart
“I shouldn’t have bought him lunch the other day,” Thornton concluded. “He thought he was getting a pass.”
There are no passes when it comes to Thornton’s physicality, which no fewer than four other former professional teammates have found out over the course of five fights this season. Those five fights are part of a list of 10 that Thornton has compiled this season, as even at the age of 34, he’s continued to be the player Boston looks toward to light its fuse with his fists when necessary.
It took until the third period for that spark to take, as the Bruins rallied from 3-2 down at the second intermission with three unanswered goals in the final period. Prior to their last-period offensive eruption, Thornton had produced half the team’s offense with a rare goal on a penalty shot with a move he’d put into storage once goaltender Tuukka Rask caught onto it during practice.
“I’ve actually practiced that move a bunch. We practice a lot of shootouts at the end of practice,” said Thornton. “I used to do it until Tuukka knew it. But after they called it, he was shaking his head ‘yes’ to try it. So why not?”
Thornton had just exited the penalty box and skated end to end with the puck before he was slashed by Tim Stapleton. On the ensuing penalty shot, Thornton kicked his leg up between the hash marks like he was going to take a wrist shot, and then continued to the net where he beat netminder Ondrej Pavelec with a backhand shot to tie the game at 2.
The goal brought 17,565 of his friends in the stands, plus teammates and other assorted personnel, to their feet. And many more folks around the region in their living rooms were undoubtedly equally as enthused.
There are many people the affable Thornton will never have to fight. But he’d take anyone on if he had to in order to help his team earn a victory, and he has the two Stanley Cup championship rings, plus the fight card filled with friends, to prove it.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.