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Enforcer Shawn Thornton entered this season with 15 career goals, and had just one in 74 games last season. Simply put, his job on the ice regularly does not involve scoring…until now. Thornton scored his career-high sixth and seventh goals of the season (in just 33 games) to help lead the Bruins past the Thrashers 4-1.
“The fans have been unbelievable to me since I got here. Tonight was just another level,” Thornton told reporters after the game. “It’s been a long journey to get here. Not too many people get to hear their name chanted by 18,000 people. It’s a pretty cool experience.”
Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Bruins against 23-year-old Ondrej Pavelec, who entered the game second in the NHL in goals against average (1.82) and save percentage (.943). Tops in league of course is Tim Thomas (1.70 GAA, .948 SV%), who finished with 26 saves to help the B’s squad that was 1-3-1 over their previous five games. He improved to 16-4-5.
Before Thornton lit the lamp, he got into a typical fight just two seconds in the game, breaking out into a brawl with Atlanta’s Eric Boulton. Both players exchanged blows for a minute before getting separated. Both players received five-minute penalties.
The real brawl occurred with less than five minutes to go in the third period, when all 10 skaters (excluding goaltenders) duked it out, resulting in 96 penalty minutes. Five players overall received game misconduct penalties, and Milan Lucic was called for a match penalty. Surprisingly, Thornton was NOT involved in this scrum. The big fight began when Thrasher Freddy Meyer hit Lucic with a high hit and Andrew Ference stepped in and started brawling with Meyer.
Earlier in the week, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli gave coach Claude Julien the “vote of confidence,” so this effort by the B’s should help his cause…for now. If the Bruins fail to string together a good stretch of hockey by mid-January, expect Julien’s seat to remain red-hot.
The Bruins next enjoy the Christmas holiday before embarking on a five-game road trip that begins Monday in Florida.