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game recap

Coyotes 5, Bruins 2

Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:38 PM

Shawn P. Roarke

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Coyotes 5, Bruins 2
Phoenix Coyotes 5, Boston Bruins 2

By Shawn P. Roarke
PRAGUE – Host of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series between the Coyotes and Boston Bruins, the Czech Republic capital of Prague is known as the "Enchanted City."

After Saturday night's first of back-to-back games here between the two clubs, the Coyotes won't argue with that description.

Neither will the team's three homegrown talents -- forwards Radim Vrbata, Petr Prucha and Martin Hanzal.

Vrbata notched two goals and was named the first star of Phoenix's 5-2 victory over Boston at O2 Arena. Hanzal and Prucha had four shots apiece and each finished plus-1 in the 2010-11 season opener for both teams. 

Virtually everything went well on this night for Phoenix, which earned all of its good fortune. For Boston, its first regular-season game in Europe was not one for the memory banks and, afterward, the Bruins said they had nobody but themselves to blame.

The fairy-tale story for Phoenix began when Vrbata opened the scoring with 7:59 gone in first period to author one of the signature moments of the NHL's return to Prague. The NHL held a Premiere Game series between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning two years ago, a series in which Vrbata also played.

On the goal, Vrbata was able to bunt home a shot that caromed crazily off the glass behind the goal after a point shot that was wide of the goal from Adrian Aucoin drew Boston goalie Tuukka Rask out of position.

"It was a good bounce off the glass," Vrbata told NHL.com. "They all count, no matter how you score them."

Vrbata was free off to Rask's left because Boston's defensive coverage had collapsed, a theme that was present throughout the game.

Vrbata added an empty-net goal late in the third period.

Once Phoenix had the lead, it applied the formula that resulted in a 107-point effort and a surprising fourth-place finish in the West last season.

Mainly, Phoenix used timely scoring, a stout defense and brilliant goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 40 saves, including 26-straight through two periods. By then, Phoenix had built a 4-0 lead and looked ready to cruise home.

"When you get the lead, pretty much you can control the game," Bryzgalov told NHL.com.

That is just what the Coyotes did until the Bruins showed a bit of life in the third with a pair of goals from newcomer Nathan Horton.

Just 1:58 into the second, Taylor Pyatt provided a goal from Phoenix's energy line when, unmarked in the low slot, he shoveled a rebound over Rask's shoulder before defenseman Matt Hunwick could get on the scene.

Scottie Upshall crashes Boston's net on Saturday.  Photo by Getty Images.
After Scottie Upshall gave the Coyotes a 3-0 lead at 15:02 of the second period, (see KEY MOMENT below), Phoenix got its final goal of the period with 17 seconds remaining, using some crisp cross-ice passing to open up Boston's penalty-killing box before Eric Belanger found a crease in the coverage and redirected a pass past Rask.

The Bruins, particularly Horton -- who came over from Florida in an offseason trade -- found their European legs in the third period. But, it was too late by then.

Horton scored a pair of goals from the slot -- one on the power play -- to halve the lead at the time and suggest, perhaps, that Phoenix's fairy tale might yet turn into a nightmare.

Instead, Bryzgalov held the Bruins off the board for the final nine minutes, performing a repeat of the early-game heroics that allowed his team to take control of the game and set the stage for the storybook finish for the Czech players on the Phoenix roster.

Boston needs a win in Sunday's rematch to avoid going winless for the trip and flying back across the Atlantic with a realization that they let four points slip away while on European soil.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com contributed to this recap.
 
Leading 2-0, Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall essentially put the game out of reach by stealing the puck from Boston's Daniel Paille in the neutral zone and scoring a breakaway goal on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask at 15:03 of the second period. Rask, who made 32 saves, had already stoned the Coyotes on three breakaways up to that point, but he had no answer for Upshall.

► Click here to watch the KEY MOMENT.
 
• The Coyotes have won five consecutive season openers.

• Not only did center Eric Belanger score a goal for his 300th NHL point in his debut with the Coyotes, he won 13 of 17 face-offs.

Ekman-Larsson
• Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson made his Coyotes/NHL debut at age 19. He played a team-high 23:47, delivered three hits and blocked two shots. 

• Center Vernon Fiddler got into the team's first fight of the season when he swapped punches with Boston's Gregory Campbell early in the third period.

• Forward Ray Whitney, signed in the off-season to help boost the power play, did just that when he assisted on Eric Belanger's goal in the second period.

• Forward Scottie Upshall returned to the ice for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January of last season. He logged 12:45, took four shots on goal and scored an unassisted goal.

• Forwards Kyle Turris and Paul Bissonnette were healthy scratches. Defenseman Derek Morris did not play because of a lower-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.

• The Coyotes and Bruins will play again at O2 Arena on Sunday. The puck drops at 7 a.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on NHL Network and/or heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
 
Vrbata "It was special, especially for us Czech guys. We got a good introduction early. Everyone was cheering when we were introduced. It was really nice." "We can't rely on Bryz that much. They had 42 shots or something like that. We can't do that. Bryz was really good in the beginning or we would have been in trouble." "I thought we were flat in the beginning and couldn't get anything going."
Vrbata Doan Chara
 
Vrbata Horton Bryzgalov
 
  • Oct. 9, 2010: PHX 5, BOS 2

  • Oct. 10, 2010: At Prague
scoring summary
1st Period
07:59
PHX
Radim Vrbata (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Adrian Aucoin (1), Ed Jovanovski (1)
1 - 0 PHX
2nd Period
01:58
PHX
Taylor Pyatt (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Vernon Fiddler (1), Lee Stempniak (1)
2 - 0 PHX
15:02
PHX
Scottie Upshall (1) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
3 - 0 PHX
19:43
PHX
PPG - Eric Belanger (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Keith Yandle (1), Ray Whitney (1)
4 - 0 PHX
3rd Period
03:33
BOS
Nathan Horton (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Milan Lucic (1), David Krejci (1)
4 - 1 PHX
09:03
BOS
PPG - Nathan Horton (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Zdeno Chara (1), Michael Ryder (1)
4 - 2 PHX
18:13
PHX
EN - Radim Vrbata (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Ed Jovanovski (2)
5 - 2 PHX
penalty summary
1st Period
12:02
PHX
Shane Doan  Hooking against  Shawn Thornton
13:26
PHX
Ed Jovanovski  Roughing against  Zdeno Chara
16:16
PHX
Radim Vrbata  Interference against  David Krejci
2nd Period
18:45
BOS
Brad Marchand  Tripping against  Oliver Ekman-Larsson
3rd Period
03:41
BOS
Gregory Campbell  Fighting (maj) against  Vernon Fiddler
03:41
PHX
Vernon Fiddler  Fighting (maj) against  Gregory Campbell
07:34
PHX
Eric Belanger  Hooking against  Patrice Bergeron
10:11
BOS
Gregory Campbell  Slashing against  Shane Doan
goalie stats
Ilya Bryzgalov
SA: 42TOI: 60:00
Saves: 40EV: 34 - 35
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 7
SV%: .952SH: 0 - 0
Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask
SA: 36TOI: 59:47
Saves: 32EV: 24 - 27
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 5
SV%: .889SH: 4 - 4
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