It was his point blank shot in the third period that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned aside. Had the puck gone in the net Thornton would have had that N.H.L. rarity a Gordie Howe hat trick a goal an assist and a fight.
In this case two out of three was quite all right.
Thornton assisted on his linemate Gregory Campbell s second period goal the eventual winner. He got in some good blows in a first period crowd pleasing joust with Derek Dorsett. And his line the Bruins fourth again produced above and beyond in the Game 5 victory Saturday at TD Garden.
Campbell had two goals the second scored into an empty net with 51 seconds left. Over the course of the five games the line of Campbell Thornton and Daniel Paille produced four goals (three by Campbell) six assists and the aforementioned fight. They completely dominated the Rangers fourth liners and even their Ranger superiors. Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan One goal each.
It was the second time in three games that Boston s fourth line made the game s big plays. It did so in the Bruins 2 1 victory in Game 3 with Paille recording the winner and assisting along with Thornton on Boston s first goal.
That line makes a coach look good Boston Coach Claude Julien said. That line played a big role in this series. We re moving on and they certainly deserve a lot of credit for that.
Julien had said before Game 5 that he did not like the Rangers attempt to pick fights with his fourth liners because they were too valuable to be in the penalty box. Then Thornton went out and picked up seven minutes (along with Dorsett) before the game was seven minutes old.
I thought he was trying to take liberties with my line and I wasn t O.K. with that Thornton said of Dorsett who also had been jawing with Paille. That s the end of it.
In the second period with the game tied at 1 1 after the now seemingly obligatory goal by defenseman Torey Krug matching one from Dan Girardi the Bruins fourth line made the plays that broke the final deadlock of the series.
Paille controlled the puck in the neutral zone and fired it into a scrum in front of Lundqvist. The puck hit Thornton in the pants (that was his assist) and bounced in front where Campbell was a step ahead of Kris Newbury for a quick wrister to the far side.
Campbell ended up on his back behind the net arms raised in jubilation. He also fell to the ice on his empty netter sweeping the puck in from the right side about 50 feet away from the goal.
We know we re important to this team whether we score or not Campbell said. This team is built on the play of four lines and we need everybody. Our line wants to be the line that makes a difference in any way we can.
Thornton added I don t say it too often but I think we ve earned the right to be out there too. We ve proven that we can actually play.
The Rangers can certainly attest to that. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh said They were pretty dangerous the whole series. Coach John Tortorella added They ve got a deep team and that is part of it. It can t be an excuse.
No but it can be a reason the Bruins are advancing to meet the Penguins and the Rangers are not. The Bruins got 10 points out of their fourth line in the series. They got the same number of points from their first line. And one fewer fight.