-- Not only did the Boston Bruins
get a much-needed two points from Sunday's 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere game against the Phoenix Coyotes
, but they return to North America with the knowledge they have a pure goal scorer on their roster.
Newcomer Nathan Horton
, obtained in an offseason trade with Florida, scored a goal and added an assist as Boston took a 3-0 victory Sunday at O2 Arena to cancel out a 5-2 win by Phoenix a day earlier.
Now, after the last of six Premiere games spread across Europe in the past 96 hours, each team returns home from this season-opening adventure with two points.
Horton, meanwhile, heads to Boston with 4 points, including 3 goals. The big forward had both goals in Saturday's loss.
"I'm so happy," Horton said. "It's the best feeling to be a Boston Bruin."
His happiness is showing early on.
Horton, who has averaged 25 goals through his first five seasons in Florida, has been a pure goal scorer in his first two regular-season games as a Bruin.
He is on pace for 133 goals this season, one he certainly won't keep up.
"I'm going to try," he said. "I don't want to be satisfied."
Horton's goal Sunday, Boston's second of the game, perfectly illustrated his ability to snipe.
Capitalizing on some good puck work by David Krejci
and Mark Recchi, Horton took the puck in the low slot, spun to get on his forehand and then snapped a filthy top-shelf wrister over the shoulder of Ilya Bryzgalov, who didn't have time to react.
"I just tried to turn around and hit the net," he said, far too modestly.
That highlight-reel goal joins the two from Saturday's game, including a sweet power-play goal.
Last season, it took the Bruins six games before somebody reached the three-goal mark. Horton did it in less than 48 hours.
Plus, Horton forced a turnover midway through the second period to send Milan Lucic
in for Boston's first goal at the 12:12 mark.
Rookie Tyler Seguin
added his first career goal on a breakaway in the third period, showing some scoring moves of his own by faking out Bryzgalov while a Phoenix defender was bearing down on him.
"I saw the puck in the net and then I raised my arms. I wasn't sure it was in at first," said Seguin who was hauled down and slid into the end boards after getting off the shot.
"I didn't imagine my first NHL game in Europe, much less my first NHL goal," he added.
While Horton was good in both games to open the season here, Boston was much better Sunday than they were in Saturday's 5-2 loss.
The Bruins played a much more sound defensive game, suffocating the Phoenix offense for long stretches. In fact, the Coyotes managed just one shot in the first 15 minutes of the second period and was outshot 13-4 to start the game.
Plus, the Bruins were much better in puck management, refusing to make the types of turnovers that bedeviled them in Saturday's loss.
"We wanted to play better and we knew we could play better," Horton said. "Every time we had a letdown, Timmy (Thomas) was there to save us."
The aforementioned Thomas earned the shutout in his first start since offseason hip surgery. Thomas played in place of Tuukka Rask
, who gave up four goals Saturday night.
Although he was not extensively tested, Thomas did make several big stops among his 29 saves on the night, including a third-period rush by Taylor Pyatt
and a first-period backhander from Eric Belanger in the slot.
Bryzgalov, who stopped 40 shots in Saturday's win, was good again Sunday, stopping the first 25 shots he faced. Boston then scored on back-to-back shots, even though they came more than seven minutes apart.
Bryzgalov finished with 34 saves.
Some of Boston's energy likely came from coach Claude Julien's decision to tinker with the roster and his forward lines Sunday.
Rookie Jordan Caron
made his NHL debut in the game, taking the place of the scratched Daniel Paille
. Julien also moved veteran Recchi onto Seguin's line after the two showed some good chemistry on the power play in Saturday's game.
Phoenix stayed with the same lineup as Saturday.
Now, each team returns to North America to continue the NHL regular season. Phoenix plays against Detroit, its first-round playoff foe, at home Saturday night. Boston, meanwhile, goes to New Jersey for a game Saturday night.
Horton, though, may just want to stay in Europe after the success he has had during the past 48 hours.
Asked jokingly if had asked Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli about playing more games in Europe, Horton did not dismiss the idea.
"I haven't yet," he said, breaking into a big smile. "Maybe I'll have to ask him on the plane back home."