By Danny Picardand Joe Haggerty
BOSTON -- Shawn Thornton started the night off with a fight, and he ended it with two goals.
These Bruins needed everything he provided.
Having lost four of their last five games, and coming off a stale 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, the Bs were in a position in which they had to show both passion and scoring.
They provided both on Thursday night at the TD Garden, defeating the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1, in a game that saw a whole lot more intensity out of the Bruins than Monday night. "These situations always bond and bring teams even closer together its a good feeling," said Zdeno Chara. "When you can rely on each other in situations like this there is nothing better than that."
Thornton started the game by dropping the gloves with Eric Boulton off the opening faceoff, and he gave the Bs a 3-0 lead, five minutes into the second period, sniping the top-right corner with a one-timer from the right circle. He added another, five minutes into the third, finishing a pretty 2-on-1 pass from Daniel Paille, which gave the Bruins a 4-1 lead.
Patrice Bergeron got the scoring started three minutes into the first period, and 13 seconds into a Thrashers power play. Bergeron skated towards a loose puck along the left wing in the neutral zone, and came in all alone, beating Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with a deke to the right.
Michael Ryder gave Boston a 2-0 lead 56 seconds before Thornton made it 3-0. Ryder scored his goal on the power play, after he took the puck at the right half-wall, looked pass, but decided to step out and shoot, beating Pavelec low and to the left.
After Thornton scored his sixth goal of the season tying his career single-season high Atlanta cut the Bruins lead to 3-1 midway through the second period, after he beat Tim Thomas five-hole with a weak backhander while coming hard to the net from the left wing.
But it wasnt enough, and Thornton added the dagger, in the opening minutes of the third, with his second goal of the game.
And the Bruins werent done there. With 4:06 left in the game, an absolute melee took place in Atlantas zone, as Andrew Ference attacked Freddy Meyer after Meyer knocked Milan Lucic to the ground with a hard hit at the blue line.
Ference quickly reacted, threw the gloves in the air, went after Meyer, and all 10 skaters on the ice went at it, ending Thursday night with exactly what the Bruins needed. GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton, plain and simple. Emotion, leadership and putting his body on the line for the team. He made a big statement right off the hop with a prolonged, epic hockey fight with Eric Boulton, and then scored a pair of goals to help push the Bruins to a needed victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. Thornton has a career-high seven goals on the season, and has already given everything the Bruins could possibly hope for. The Bruins crowd chanted We Want Thornton in the third period trying to will the Bs enforcer to a real hat trick rather than the Gordie Howe variety but he was denied on a couple of prime attempts.BLACK EYE: Andrew Ference, who literally had a bruised and bloodied right eye after standing up for Milan Lucic when he was slammed up high with an elbow from Freddy Meyer. Ference didnt hesitate to immediately jump into the fray in his teammates defense, and was the victim of an Anthony Stewart cheap shot at the bottom of the pile as a line brawl broke out between the Bs and Thrashers. Ference has consistently stood up and defended his teammates through his Bruins career no matter how big or strong the opponent and he did that again on Thursday night. "Andrew has done that many times. You know, I think if you recall whether it was Dallas when they were in and tried to do the same thing...hes been good," said Claude Julien. "Hes a good team man and hes always there for his teammates. That to me is not surprising. Youve seen other guys do the same thing and obviously our guys stood together there at the end and did what they had to do."TURNING POINT: Shawn Thorntons fight got the juices flowing with the Bruins in the opening seconds of the game, but it might have been for naught had the Bs not responded on the scoreboard. Patrice Bergeron has flipped a switch in the last three games, and that continued with a short-handed beauty of a score just three minutes into the first period on an Atlanta power play.BY THE NUMBERS: 7 the number of goals that Shawn Thornton has this season after a two-goal effort against the Thrashers. The game was clearly one of the best of Thorntons career, and was another one in a 2010-11 NHL season thats looking more and more like a career campaign for the Bs enforcer.QUOTE TO NOTE: It was a high hit for sure. I was bleeding from the lip and after a hit like thatI mean that was the second time Meyer has done that. Hes hit me late. Hes hit me cheap. Now thats the second time. I mean, you cant give a guy a free pass too many times, but Im happy that we stuck together as a group and as a team. You say you havent seen it in a while. Milan Lucic talking about the Freddy Meyer elbowing hit that precipitated a team-wide line brawl by the Bruins and Thrashers in the closing minutes of the third period. Lucic could be facing some NHL scrutiny after earning a match penalty in the scrum following Meyer's hit on him.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.