Shawn Thornton is beloved in Boston for winning fights and protecting teammates on the ice. Tuesday night, Thornton did them both off the ice.
After the Bruins’ 5-3 victory over Winnipeg at TD Garden, Thornton slugged it out over the phone with a Vancouver columnist, winning what is likely the last skirmish between the two teams – barring a Stanley Cup Finals rematch.
But perhaps the most telling comment during Thornton’s postgame appearance on Comcast SportsNet came in reference to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault’s not-so-subtle call for retribution against the suspended Brad Marchand.
“Not while I’m here,” Thornton said. “That’s my job to protect my players, and as long as I’m here, that’s not going to happen.”
Thornton’s on-ice performance Tuesday wasn’t bad, either, scoring his first career penalty shot goal in the second period.
“I haven’t taken a penalty shot in front of people since the Max Milk Midget Tournament, I think,” Thornton said. “I won that shootout competition by the way — I have the belt buckle to prove it.”
Thornton beat Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with a backhand toe-drag move to tie the score at 2-2 in the second period and leave his teammates in awe.
“It was a pretty sick move,” David Krejci said. “I didn’t know he was going to pull that off.”
Thornton also won another fight in the second period that helped the Bruins regain their fire for a three-goal third period that won the game.
Thornton will look to continue enforcing the ice tonight when another bitter rival, the Canadiens, visits TD Garden.
“He deserves a lot of credit for the way he played,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were a team that didn’t show as much emotion in the first two periods, and he was capable of doing his job and doing it properly.”