BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins may have won the fight, but they definitely lost the battle.
There was so much hype leading to Thursday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins because the Bruins wanted to accomplish two things. First and foremost, Boston wanted, and needed, a victory. Second, the Bruins wanted to defend of honor of teammate Marc Savard, who was the recipient of a blindside hit by the Penguins' Matt Cooke on March 7 in Pittsburgh. Cooke did not receive a penalty, or a suspension, for the hit so the Bruins wanted to take matters into their own hands.
Even with NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations at the Garden, the Bruins dealt with Cooke the proper way. As soon as he stepped onto the ice for his first shift at 1:58 of the first period, Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton bumped Cooke and the two dropped the gloves and went at it. Thornton connected on a few shots, and when the two fell to the ice and the linesmen jumped in to break it up, Thornton kept throwing punches and received an extra 10-minute misconduct. The fight was won, and the 17,565 in attendance were pleased.
The battle, however, was lost.
Boston gained absolutely no momentum from Thornton's handiwork and the Bruins were on the receiving end of a 3-0 loss to the Penguins. The cheers by the hometown fans for Thornton had turned to boos by the final seconds of the game.
"Somehow we deserve it," said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who finished with 28 saves. "It's understandable. If I were a fan, I would have done the same."
In the locker room after the deflating loss, each and every player knew this should have been the proverbial statement game, but instead it turned sour even though Thornton did what his teammates and the fans were expecting in terms of dealing with Cooke.
"That's my job and I wanted to make the point to try to get the guys going," said Thornton. "The fact is that we didn't bring the energy we needed right after that spark, and it's not the first time it's happened this year and it's definitely disappointing. It wasn't the emotion level we needed for a win."
If anything, the Penguins were the ones who got a boost from the scrap. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he didn't believe that to be true, but Thornton agreed that Pittsburgh completely took it to the Bruins after the fight.
"Throughout the whole game we didn't show enough emotion," Thornton said.
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