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Matt Cooke press conference, 3/18 03.18.10 at 9:36 pm ET
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Matt Cooke spoke to a crowd of media following the Penguins‘ 3-0 win over the Bruins on Thursday night.

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Bruins blanked by Penguins at 8:33 pm ET
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Summary – In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bruins got their revenge but ended up losing the contest as the Penguins beat Boston 3-0 at TD Garden on Thursday. Tuukka Rask started and took the loss for the Bruins with 28 saves while Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 33rd win of the year by stopping 17 pucks.

Boston got the dramatic bits out of the way early when Shawn Thornton threw down the gloves against Matt Cooke on Cooke’s first shift of the game at 1:58 in the first period. The retribution by Thornton was the Bruins initial response for Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard on March 7 that left the center with a Grade 2 concussion. Savard will miss the rest of the year.

After that, it was time to play hockey.

Tyler Kennedy got the Penguins on the board first when he took the puck on the rush down the right wing and beat Rask high for the early goal advantage. It was Kennedy’s 10th goal of the year with the helpers coming from Ruslan Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik at 8:34.

Boston took three penalties in the second period and were able to kill them all but the momentum shifted in the direction of the Penguins who outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the frame. Pittsburgh broke through with an even-strength goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky with 14.1 seconds left to take a two-goal advantage into the third period.

Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Michael Rupp beat Rask far side at 5:14 in the third to put the Bruins away for good.

Three Stars

Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender did not need to stop many pucks against the Bruins, but he ended up stopping enough to his his 33rd victory of the year.

Alexei Ponikarovsky — Pittsburgh acquired the scoring forward at the trade deadline and he scored the separation goal for the Penguins with his 21st in the second period.

Michael Rupp — The center got in a fight with Zdeno Chara and scored the Penguins third goal of the game in the third period to seal the Bruins fate.

Turning Point — The ways things go for the Bruins offense, the first goal that Rask allowed was the one that broke their back. The emotion of Thornton’s fight against Cooke had worn off and when regular hockey activities commenced Boston found itself outmatched. Kennedy got the strike with a rush down the right wing that was fed by Fedotenko. Rask could not follow the quick shot that Kennedy let go and the Penguins had the lead and never looked back.

Key Play — It may not have been the key play to the game, but Thornton tracking down Cooke for the retribution fight on Cooke’s first shift of the game was essential for Boston’s reputation with its fans and within the NHL. Cooke jumped the boards for his shift at 1:56 in the first period and Thornton had his glove off and ready for the fisticuffs by 1:58, showing that he was going to waste no time in getting the matter over with. Cooke got the first few punches in on Thornton but the Bruins enforcer scored the next couple of hits and pulled Cooke’s sweater over his head that brought the forward to his knees. Thornton took the fighting major as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

Read More: Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask
Thornton vs. Cooke photo gallery at 7:41 pm ET
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The much-anticipated Bruins-Penguins game has begun, and it didn’t take long for a fight to break out. Matt Cooke and Shawn Thornton squared off just 1:58 into the first period. Check out the photo gallery to see it all unfold.

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First period summary: Bruins-Penguins at 6:54 pm ET
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It took all of two seconds.

That would be the amount of time that Matt Cooke was on the ice before Bruins forward Shawn Thornton tracked him down and signaled for a fight. Cooke jumped the boards for his first shift at 1:56 and skated to across the ice towards his defensive zone corner. Thorton came straight at him and let him know that he was on his way and they dropped gloves and circled each other. Cooke got the first couple of punches before Thornton went in with as much vigor as has been seen from him this year, registering a couple hits to the head and then pulling his sweater over his head. When the referees pulled the enforcer off of Cooke he was still visibly upset and was restrained as Cooke made his way to the box for the five-minute fighting major. Thornton received the five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct for instigating the fight.

Then there was hockey to be played and when it comes to that, the Penguins tend to fare better than the Bruins this season.

Pittsburgh scored the first goal of the game at 8:34 when Tyler Kennedy beat Tuukka Rask on a wrist shot on a rush down the right wing. It was Kennedy’s 10th of the year and the Penguins had the early lead.

Like the last time the teams played (March 7 in Pittsburgh), Boston had a couple of power play opportunities to get on the board in the first period. The first came at 5:36 when the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice, served by Kennedy. The second came, much to the delight of the TD Garden crowd, against Cooke at 12:52 when he side-swiped defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on the end boards behind Rask for a tripping penalty.

Just like March 7, Boston could do nothing with the man-advantage.

Outside of Thornton’s retribution and Kennedy’s goal, the play was even through much of the period but the Penguins will begin the second with a goal advantage.

Shots through first:

Boston – 5

Pittsburgh — 5

Read More: Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Kennedy
Orr on focusing on Cooke: ‘That’s silly’ at 5:04 pm ET
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Before and after Thursday’s game against the Penguins the Bruins will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions team. Many of the major alumni from the era are in attendance at TD Garden and were made available to the media in an afternoon session in the executive suite on the second level of the stadium. Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith and Fred Stanfield, among others were in attendance to rehash the memories of that great Bruins team.

Yet, the members of the last great Bruins dynasty could not completely escape the drama that the current incarnation in embroiled in. For the most part they were diplomatic and are trying not to stoke the fire and the media did its best to keep the topic on 1970 as opposed to 2010.

“Just getting together and seeing the guys again is really what it is all about,” Orr said. “I have to thank the Bruins for doing this. They have really been first class.”

Orr was bullish on the notion that the 1970 team would still be a great squad even in the current era of the NHL.

“We had a pretty good hockey team,” Orr said. “If you look at our lines they would be a pretty good team today too. We were pretty close. I don’t believe we had any ego problems or anything like that and we knew it was more fun to win than to lose and we loved to win hockey games … we didn’t need anyone else taking care of our problems, we could care of those ourselves.”

The group of reporters around Orr held out questions about Matt Cooke and the Penguins for about six minutes before finally succumbing to the temptation to ask one of the greatest hockey player of all time what he thinks about the situation. He reiterated what the current players said earlier Thursday — it is about the two points and to make it a point to go after Cooke would be “silly.”

“The Bruins have to go out tonight and play. It is two points, they are in a fight. And the Penguins are struggling a little bit. First of all I think that it is going to be a heck of a hockey game. It would be silly for the Bruins that their key thing to be to go after a player,” Orr said. “That’s silly. It would be a silly thing to do, it would be a silly thing for all of us. I was listening to a talk show coming in and the fan was ‘you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to take [Sidney] Crosby out.’ Come on. That is silly.”

Orr did express his opinion on the nature of the hit and what he thinks of Marc Savard.

“In my mind, it was an illegal hit. In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, who is a great hockey player, you bump him, you grind him, you get in his way. But, he is a player that you don’t run over like that. There were periods where that was understood that,” Orr said. “It would be like like me, during my time, running over Jean Beliveau from behind or blindsiding him. You just don’t do that. I was a pain in the you know what, so I was hit a lot. I would hit so I am going to get hit back but Marc, you just don’t do that to him.”

Orr was asked if the rules changes between his era and the current era has led to more hits like the Cooke’s on Savard but understands that the players cannot be given free reign over vigilante justice.

“The rules are pretty strict on things like that. I believe that if they let the players police it for a little while everyone will soon understand but I am not sure they will let them do that,” Orr said.

Read More: Bobby Orr, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke,
Milbury on D&H: ‘Mired in this Neanderthal B.S.’ at 12:50 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in with Dale & Holley show (audio here) to talk about Thursday night’s Bruins-Penguins game and the potential for nastiness involving Penguins villain Matt Cooke. Milbury said he’s heard that NHL vice president Colin Campbell will address the teams prior to the game. Said Milbury: “That’s what I’m hearing. I don’t know what he’s going to say, but I’m sure there will be references to past incidents, [Todd] Bertuzzi-[Steve] Moore, for example, and he doesn’t what any nonsense and what-not, which is good. We had such a great buzz after the Winter Classic. We had such an incredible buzz after the Olympics, and now we get stuck and mired in this Neanderthal B.S., which is really unfortunate for the sport.”

Milbury said he expects the Bruins will seek retribution early. “I hope it isn’t silly. I hope it’s mano-a-mano and confrontational and sends a message to Matt Cooke that this isn’t going to happen. And I actually think if it happens twice, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. But I don’t want it to deteriorate. … The actual game had such a positive buzz. I don’t want to lose that in the circus sideshow here. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think there’s a need to go after Sidney Crosby in any untoward way.”

Added Milbury: “The Bruins, their macho is challenged, their ego is challenged, their self-esteem is on the line. I think they’re going to feel compelled to get even, whatever that means. I’m not so sure they have to. I wish all this stuff happened spontaneously rather than a planned event, but it happens.”

Milbury said it’s important not to let things get out of hand, for the sake of all involved. “We want a hockey game,” he said. “A hard-played and well-fought — no pun intended — hockey game, where if there’s a way to get some measure of justice when you feel like justice had not be been served on a cheap-shot hit to your teams’ most valuable player, so be it. So be it. Man, oh, man, this is not a real war, this is a professional hockey game to be played hard and within the boundaries of the rules, for the most part. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that people get hurt out here.”

As for Campbell, Milbury said: “I think he’s done … what he thinks is right, by the book. You may have issues with that, but I know Colin Campbell well enough to know he takes the job seriously. … He struggled with it. He struggled with this decision big-time.”

Milbury said the Penguins should let Cooke know his dirty play will not be tolerated any more. “It’s disgraceful if they haven’t addressed it already,” Milbury said.

As for the Bruins’ chances to make the playoffs, Milbury said: “I think it’s going to be Boston or New York, and I give the edge to Boston now.”

Read More: Bruins, Colin Campbell, Matt Cooke, Mike Milbury
Claude Julien pregame press conference, 3/18 at 12:46 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien spoke to the media after Thursday’s morning skate. For a transcript, click here.

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