PRAGUE – Newcomer Nathan Horton scored a second-period goal and added an assist to help lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday and split the teams’ two-game, NHL season-opening series in the Czech capital.
The Bruins’ Tim Thomas recorded a 29-save shutout in his first game of the season, replacing Tuukka Rask.
The 25-year-old Horton joined the Bruins from the Florida Panthers before the season. He scored both goals for Boston in the 5-2 loss to the Coyotes in the opener Saturday in Prague.
“Boston is hockey, it’s sports. It’s fun to be a Boston Bruin,” Horton said.
“Every day, it’s getting better,” he said about his line with winger Milan Lucic and centre David Krejci.
Phoenix and Boston were two of six NHL teams to start the season in Europe this year.
“Definitely, it’s nice to get goals and to contribute, to help the team win,” Horton said.
“We had a little letdown in the first game and tonight we bounced back and turned things around and we played quite well,” he said.
Lucic put the Bruins on the scoreboard halfway through the second period with a slap shot after gathering Horton’s pass. Horton added the second on a quick wrist shot over goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder with 33 seconds left.
After Saturday’s loss, the Bruins went on attack and bombarded Bryzgalov from the start.
“We came out strong,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We created lot of chances. We were putting a lot of pressure on them, didn’t give them much time to do anything and we got rewarded.”
Boston outshot Phoenix 37-29, including 15-8 in the first period, but Bryzgalov held on through the scoreless first until Lucic struck at 12:11 in the second.
“A much better play from the whole team, more aggressive,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We put pressure on them. Puck management was much, much better, and that made a big difference.
“If you looked at the team yesterday and you looked at it today, I think you saw two different teams. We hope to see the team that played the second game more than the team that played the first one.”
Julien said to return home from the European trip without a point would have been a major disappointment.
“We came here with a purpose in mind, and although we enjoyed the experience that was given to us, we also felt these games very important to us,” he said.
Eighteen-year-old centre Tyler Seguin sealed the victory with a breakaway goal at 9:14 in the third in his second NHL game.
“It’s always fun to see these guys score their first goal,” Julien said.
Both teams were heading for long flights home immediately after Sunday’s game, but Coyotes captain Shane Doan said the trip was still a positive experience.
“It was beautiful. I loved it. We had a great time,” he said. “It was something we as a team enjoyed.”
The Bruins play at the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in their first game back, while the Coyotes will welcome the Detroit Red Wings to Glendale for their home opener Saturday.
About 13,000 spectators watched Sunday’s clash, with less than 16,000 attending a day earlier, as NHL teams returned to Prague for season openers for the second time.