Shawn Thornton took the lead for the B's, pummeling Matt Cooke into the ground to exact vengeance for Cooke's hit on Marc Savard, one of Boston's top goalscorers. Savard is not expected to return to action this season.
When Cooke hit the ice a couple of minutes into the first period, Thornton was there to do battle. The two jostled each other in the faceoff circle to the left of Pittsburgh's goal, and that was all Thornton needed to drop his gloves. The two traded punches before Cooke's helmet fell off, and he hit the ice.
Both received a major penalty, and Thornton also served a 10-minute misconduct in the box for swinging at Cooke while down on the ice.
In the three preceding games, Thornton totaled 14 minutes and 34 seconds on the ice, ripping off two shots total with no goals. In the Penguins game, he only got off two shots and had to spend 15 minutes cooling his jets in the box.
It's not often a player gets recognition for such minimal playing time or negligible production on the ice, but being player of the week isn't just about racking up statistics — it's about doing what's necessary.
What was necessary on March 18 was for someone to deliver a message to Matt Cooke that his blindside hit on Savard would not go unnoticed. On a team that has taken criticism for not protecting teammates enough, Thornton stepped up and did the job.