BOSTON, MA - Shawn Thornton may not always score goals, but when he does, they are often beauties.
On Tuesday night at TD Garden, with the Bruins leading 4-2 over the Florida Panthers in the third period, Thornton collected a quick pass from Gregory Campbell just before the blueline in front of the Boston bench.
The winger then streaked down the left side, cut across the middle, won the battle along the right wing boards against the Panthers' Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky. He threw a shoulder, protected the puck, worked himself free and walked the goal line.
He had his 'Merlot Line' linemate Daniel Paille at the goal mouth for a pass, but had room to walk the goal line, fake a shot on defenseman Brian Campbell, move to his backhand, get around one more Panther and roof it top shelf on former teammate Tim Thomas.
Paille's wide smile - and Thornton's - told it all.
"Honestly, on that goal, Piesy brought a lot of guys to him and created a lot of space for myself. Being on the back door, he was chirping me that I looked him off actually," laughed Thornton.
It was his fourth goal of the season, and his second point in the past two games, after earning the assist on Carl Soderberg's game-winner the night prior on Long Island in a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.
"Yeah, I don’t know if I want to pump his tires too much here," laughed teammate Tuukka Rask, when asked about Thornton chipping in with his nice goal. "I’m sure he’s going to do that himself."
"It was a nice goal, he wasn’t passing that puck, I saw it, he wanted it against Timmy especially. He got it, I’m sure he’s really, really happy now."
Thornton even had Thomas surprised by his move.
"The next whistle we had a shift down there and he said “are you kidding me?” and just started laughing," said Thornton. "He was as surprised as I was, I suppose."
Milan Lucic likely remembers all of Thornton's goals. He has the photographic mind for it. His penalty shot against Winnipeg back in 2012 comes to mind, but this goal involved serious individual effort.
"It will definitely be a highlight of the night around North America," smiled Lucic. "I would say for right now I would put it in the top three or four of goals of the month."
"It was awesome to see him do what he did there, and I know everyone had a good chuckle because we love seeing him score and get rewarded when he does. It almost seems like when he does score he gets the pretty ones, and that one was probably his prettiest since he’s been here on the Bruins."
The Bruins have been getting team-wide contributions with their third straight six-goal win. When they're playing that style, their identity, it usually means a Merlot Liner like Thornton is chipping in.
"We’ve been fortunate to get some goals," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, before smirking. "The highlight goal tonight came from a fourth-liner, so now we’ve got to listen to this for the next week."