BOSTON -- It seemed like so long since Shawn Thornton had dropped the gloves in an NHL game that one had to wonder if he was pondering a career upgrade from fourth-line enforcer to first-line sniper.
Alas, there were no delusions of grandeur for the Bs resident tough guy, and Thornton ended a streak of 20 straight NHL games without a fighting major by tangling with Toronto toughie Colton Orr. The brawl ended with a slight edge toward Thornton as he landed a few flying rights flush to Orrs face and ended the brawl by pulling the white Leafs sweater over his enemys head.
But the big victory arrived with the emotional lift provided by Thorntons first fisticuffs of the season, and a decisive 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs that also acted as needed Boston slump buster at the TD Garden.
Did Thorntons teammates have a this building is vibrating kind of moment while watching the Bs enforcer go about his punch-throwing business?
100 percent. It seemed like the fight got us into it, it got the crowd into it and created that energy in the building tonight, said Milan Lucic, who was inspired enough to collect his first goal of the season in the victory.
Thornton seemed acutely aware of how many games it had been since hed registered an NHL fight, and he did actually tangle with 6-foot-7 Habs defenseman Alex Henry in the Halifax exhibition game three weeks ago. But none of that really matters when it comes down to winning, and No. 22 had a difficult time finding a willing dance partner once the Bs had fallen behind in their first handful of games this season.
With Orr and Jay Rosehill both suiting up for the Leafs, Thornton had to have some idea that Thursday night would be all right for fighting especially with the Bs dressing room leader hoping to inject as much influence as possible in the early portions of the contest.
It was thought about. Obviously I knew well, not knew but before the game I was thinking that I might have to drop the gloves," Thornton said. "And the first shift my first shift of the game -- I thought we had a good start. Im not sure if it was absolutely necessary but I thought it couldve been the right time getting the guys going. Once again, they made me look smart so its amazing how they do that for me.
I thought it mightve been able to get us going and turn things the other way. There were a few times I guess in the first six games where I felt the same way and couldnt find someone. But that happens through the course of the season. I wasnt hitting the panic button.
It was a scoreless game early in the first when Thornton and Orr did the dance, and Toronto actually jumped on the board first when David Steckel was the recipient of a good bounce off Chris Kellys skate. But his Bs teammates did indeed make the 34-year-old brawler look like a MENSA candidate by putting up six goals in the victory, and they also made coach Claude Julien look like a trap-loving maestro when his newly constructed lines piled up the offense.
Everything was working for the Black and Gold, and one of the sure signs that intensity, urgency and the real Bruins have returned to the building is when Thornton goes after one of the opponents heavyweights.
You could see it was unavoidable when you looked at their roster and saw Rosehill and Orr," Julien said. "Going into the game, we knew what was going to happen, and Thornton probably decided, Lets deal with this right now and lets not waste any time.' He certainly did a great job for us again in regards to that. We got the power play goal to get us back in the game after a tough goal against . . . we just kind of got going from there. A lot of guys came up and did their job, and Thornton was one of those.
The fourth line managed a couple of shots on net in their nights work, and had a near miss when Daniel Paille flicked an off-balance backhander over an open Toronto net early in the first period. But all of that paled in comparison to the Quiet Man going out and doing his nights work without any regard for how his fists or face were going to feel in the morning.
They must certainly feel a lot better with Bostons third victory of the season in the bank.