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Cooke causes stir at the Garden

1/15/2011

BOSTON -- Hockey public enemy No. 1 Matt Cooke was back in TD Garden on Saturday as he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins with two assists. But unlike his last visit here, when he fought Shawn Thornton only ten days after he knocked out Marc Savard with a blindside hit to the head, Cooke wouldn’t oblige when he was challenged to a fight by Johnny Boychuk in the first period.

It wasn’t surprising to Savard, who, ironically, took another shot to the head from Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland in the third period but got up and played after.

“Johnny challenged him three times in the last two times we played and he seems to shy away from it every time, so that’s unfortunate,” Savard said. "He won't do a thing. Johnny's tried him the last two games, numerous times, and he skates away. He'll get you from different areas, but he won't go straight on, obviously. But yeah, it’s great that the crowd is on him [booing] and into it.”

Boychuk had an inkling about why Cooke declined to fight.

“Probably because his team is up a goal there,” Boychuk said. “That’s about it, unless he didn’t want to. I didn’t know if he was going to or not. I would’ve liked to but he didn’t think it was good for his team.”

So how aggravating can the Penguins agitator be?

“I don’t find him too aggravating,” Boychuk said. “He just goes and tries to do his job. He’s a grinder, and that’s what his job is. It’s not really aggravating -- you play against guys like that every game and you just can’t take penalties against guys like that.”

That’s pretty much how Cooke described himself when asked what he thinks of being such a villain in Boston.

“I accept that role and that position and it is what it is,” said Cooke, who was booed by the 17, 565 fans at TD Garden throughout the game Saturday. “Like I said, I’m good with that and I have to play a certain way to be effective in this league. If they want to boo me then good, that means I’m doing my job. It is what is.”

According to Cooke, there hasn’t really been a chance for Savard and him to get into it because they never seem to be on the ice at the same time. In addition to that, Cooke thinks it’s time to move on.

“We played a little bit tonight but we’re never really in the same area,” Cooke said. “Nothing’s been said. There becomes a point when things in the past are just that. I know it’s something for people to talk about and something people keep bringing up. Ultimately you can’t live in the past and you have to look forward.”