BOSTON — The revenge-minded Boston Bruins got in some early shots. The Pittsburgh Penguins connected on the ones that counted.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for Pittsburgh’s first shutout of the season and the Penguins won 3-0 as the Bruins got little spark from their retaliation against Matt Cooke less than 2 minutes into the game Thursday night.

Shawn Thornton squared off with Cooke 5 seconds after Cooke came on for his first shift. The anticipation of a fight had built since March 7, when Bruins center Marc Savard was sidelined indefinitely after Cooke’s blindside hit caused a Grade 2 concussion in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins scored once in each period — goals by Tyler Kennedy, Alex Ponikarovsky and Michael Rupp.

Boston Coach Claude Julien said four or five of his players had the flu and had little energy but stressed that it wasn’t an excuse for the poor performance.

Not even captain Zdeno Chara’s decision to fight Rupp at 11:43 of the second period could fire up his teammates, who are fighting for a playoff berth. They hold the eighth and final Eastern Conference spot with 74 points, three more than the Atlanta Thrashers and New York Rangers.

“At that point, we had nothing,” Chara said. “I really felt that was the right moment to bring some energy back, some emotion.”

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 he followed through on a shot.

“There was an anxiety and emotion going into this game that you can’t deny,” Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma said.

Cooke came on the ice just 1:53 into the game to loud boos.

“I think that was Shawn’s notice that I was on the ice,” Cooke said.

They brushed against each other in the faceoff circle to the left of the Penguins’ net, dropped their gloves and, in a brief exchange, traded punches before Cooke’s helmet fell off and he went to the ice.

“It’s my job. I know my job,” Thornton said.

“So it was addressed immediately and then it was out of the way.”

Each received a major penalty for fighting and Thornton also served a 10-minute misconduct for swinging after Cooke dropped to the ice.


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