Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton ‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.
His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.
“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.
As their coach Claude Julien  pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win  as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.
“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”
As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”
After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask  after Wednesday’s win.
“It felt good to get back in there,” said Thornton, who missed four games after suffering the skate in the face on March 29 against the Blackhawks. “I guess I have to credit our assistant coaches for getting my hands going while I was gone and Tuukka Rask for letting me score on him for the last week [in practice].
Thornton scored off a rebound from a shot by Daniel Paille  with 00.1 seconds remaining in the first period.
“Our line did a [heckuva] job tonight,” Thornton said. “Piesy [Daniel Paille] and Soup [Gregory Campbell ] were all over the puck on that goal. Just a lot of hard work from those guys and the puck ended up popping out to me at the back door. It wasn’t that tough. Piesy made a great play there.”
And no, he didn’t know how much time was left in the first when he scored just before the red light turned green behind the Islanders’ net.
“Obviously not,” Thornton said, when asked if he had one eye on the clock. “I was not watching the clock. Seider [Dennis Seidenberg ] told me right afterwards. I was not aware. I was on the other side of that clock a few games ago so I’ll take it.”
Again showing his sharp wit, Thornton joked about taking a couple of high sticks to the head in his first game back from his ugly injury.
“Unfortunately, it’s probably my own fault for talking about how many times I’m going to take the visor off. Like you said it’s probably Murphy’s Law. Whatever, it happens. Both were accidental, so I don’t really care about that. It got us a couple of power plays so I’ll take it.”
Even his coach was inspired to joke about “Thorny.”
“I think everybody is happy for him, anytime you hit double digit [goals],” Claude Julien said. “His comment to me was, ‘hopefully I can get an assist tonight, so I can be 10 and 10, instead of 10 and nine.’ Because he’s looking a little selfish with more goals than assists. So that’s, as you know Thorny, that would be one of his quotes.
“I was more preoccupied with talking about his play on defense there on that one shift in the first period, where the guy shifted around him. So he’s been bragging about playing defense before, and I told him it certainly didn’t show on that play. Little jabs here and there on the bench with Thorty, but he likes to keep it loose.”
Just what the Bruins need as they begin the playoffs late next week.