By Mary Paoletti
PRAGUE -- The games were only 19 hours apart. But somehow it looked like Boston flew a completely different team out to Prague for the rematch.
Summary and statistics
The Bruins followed up Saturday's season-opening loss, in which they were too often loose defensively and punchless offensively, with a solid effort in all phases that resulted in a 3-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.
"I'm not sure I would have been happy with this trip had we not won a game," said coach Claude Julien. "It would have been a real disappointment."
But they were anything but disappointed after Sunday's game. In fact, they even had a highlight-reel moment, courtesy of rookie Tyler Seguin.
Midway through the third period, goalie Tim Thomas cleared the puck to Michael Ryder, who found Seguin streaking up through the neutral zone. The young center took the pass behind the Phoenix defense, broke in on goalie Ilya Brygalov with a defender closing in from behind, and put home a laser shot as he and the two Coyotes crashed into the net.
"It's always fun to see rookies score their first goal,'' Julien said. "And at least he can remember that one as being a real nice goal. I thought it was a great move."
That made it 3-0, but the outcome was pretty well decided by that point.
Boston dominated play throughout a scoreless first period and finally broke through against Brygalov midway through the second. Nathan Horton poked the puck away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and spotted Milan Lucic streaking toward the goal. Lucic got the pass and fired home a 25-foot slapper.
Boston scored again with just 33 seconds left in the period. Mark Recchi stole the puck in the 'Yotes defensive zone and tipped it to Horton in front of the crease. Horton spun, fired a wrister left, and found the back of the net.
Thomas looked vintage Vezina in that controlled chaos of his.
"It feels great,'' he said. "It's been a long road and to be fortunate enough to get a shutout off the bat, to have the team play that well in front of you, to get all the bounces and feel pretty comfortable myself . . . it couldn't have gone much better.''
The Bruins goalie, helped by a stifling defense, made eight solid stops in the second period. Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart split half of the team's 12 blocked shots.
"I'm sure Tuukka's standing there wishing he had the same team in front of him as Timmy had tonight," Julien said, referring to the tepid defensive play of the B's on Saturday in front of Tuukka Rask.
Indeed, Boston's intensity was ramped up from the start.
Unlike the flat affect of the opener, the B's were hot off the opening faceoff in the rematch. The first Boston shot on net came after less than a minute and the Bruins had nine more, as well, before the midway point of the period.
But Brygalov, despite short rest, was up to the task. The goalie turned aside 15 excellent Boston chances in the first twenty minutes, and kept it up most of the day. The Bruins, however, kept battling and eventually broke through.
"I wouldn't look at our team as much as I would look at the goaltender on the other side who has been credited last year with their success,'' Julien said. "Obviously these two games here he certainly made it hard for us but we got some goals past him.''
Thomas made 26 saves for the shutout.
"We needed these two points to make it a successful trip and leave a good taste in our mouths. The whole trip has been so fantastic up until the loss yesterday," Boston's netminder said. "It sure feels good to get those two points in the bank and now we can go home with our chins up, feeling good about ourselves.''