BOSTON (AP) — Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for Pittsburgh's first shutout of the season in the Penguins' 3-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
After their much-anticipated retaliation against Matt Cooke, the Bruins showed little passion despite fighting for a playoff berth. They are eighth in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the New York Rangers and Atlanta for the final spot.
Cooke, whose blindside hit sidelined Boston's Marc Savard indefinitely with a Grade 2 concussion in Pittsburgh on March 7, took the ice for the first time 1:53 into the game as fans booed loudly. Just 5 seconds later, he and Shawn Thornton brushed against each other in the faceoff circle to the left of the Penguins net.
They dropped their gloves and, in a brief exchange, traded punches before Cooke's helmet fell off and he went to the ice. Thornton, who kept swinging while Cooke was crouched in a vulnerable position, was given a 10-minute misconduct. Both also received fighting majors.
After serving his penalty, Cooke skated back to his bench to more boos at 7:50 of the first period. Then, just 44 seconds later, Tyler Kennedy scored his 10th goal of the season when he lifted a shot from the right circle over goalie Tuukka Rask.
Alex Ponikarovsky made it 2-0 with 15 seconds left in the second period when he redirected a shot by Kris Letang. And Michael Rupp finished the scoring 5:14 into the third period when he skated alone up the right and beat Rask to the far side for his 13th goal.
Each team had just five shots in the first period, but the Penguins dominated the second. They outshot the Bruins 12-0 in the first six minutes of that period despite playing for the second consecutive night. They lost in New Jersey 5-2 on Wednesday.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara, in an apparent attempt to fire up his teammates, traded punches with Rupp at 11:43 of the second period. It didn't work as the Bruins generated few chances before Ponikarovsky scored in the waning moments of the period.
During the third period, fans who had urged the Bruins to keep going after Cooke began booing the home team. Cooke had not been penalized or suspended for knocking Savard to the ice as the Boston center followed through on a shot. Boston coach Claude Julien called it "definitely a dirty hit."
NOTES: The Boston team that won the Stanley Cup in 1970 was honored during an on-ice ceremony before the game. Bobby Orr and Johnny Bucyk, captain of that team, participated in a ceremonial puck drop with Chara and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. ... Pittsburgh's last shutout in Boston came 42 years ago when Les Binkley beat the Bruins 1-0 in the Penguins' first season. ... Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference returned after missing eight games with a groin injury.