PRAGUE -- With hardly any Boston Bruins players around to explain how they could've been so flat in the first two periods of their 5-2 season-opening loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, it was ironically a rookie who summed it up best.
"I think you always want to win your first game but we got a little too fancy and we made too many costly mistakes," Tyler Seguin said.
Despite outshooting the Coyotes 42-37, the Bruins trailed 4-0 before newcomer Nathan Horton netted his first two goals as a Bruin in the third period at O2 Arena.
Not to take anything away from a very opportunistic Phoenix squad that was led by Czech native Radim Vrbata (2 goals, 1 assist) and a brilliant performance from goalie Ilya Bryzagalov (40 saves), but the Bruins -- as they did so many times last season and most notably in their second-round playoff loss to the Flyers in May -- found way after way to beat themselves Saturday. Both the defenseman and forwards were turnover machines, leading to numerous Phoenix chances and four breakaways, one of which turned into a Scottie Upshall goal 15:02 into the middle frame.
"To sum it up, I felt our team, when the game was on the line, made too many unforced errors, and when you give a team like that opportunities -- I think they had at least three breakaways -- eventually they'll take advantage of it, and they did," a clearly disappointed Julien said after the game. "I think that's where the game was played, especially in the second period. You know, in the first period, they get that goal -- lucky bounce, and you can live with that and get yourself back in the game. But what we did in the second period were the unforced errors, gave them real quality opportunities, and they took advantage of it."
The first-period goal by Vrbata at 7:59 was just a bad break, but the Bruins still couldn't convert while they were outshooting the Coyotes 16-12 after one period and playing a solid game. Their approach changed after giving up the first goal, and they were forcing plays that led to the constant turnovers.
"I thought that we were kind of flat at the beginning and couldn't get anything going," said captain Zdeno Chara, who signed a 7-year contract extension prior to the game, "and when we did get some chances, we preferred passing instead of shooting. Maybe were a little nervous, too. We were forcing some plays, which are uncharacteristic for our team.
"We just have to play our style, be more relaxed and try to force our game plan to the opponent."
Even Horton, the Bruins' best player by far Saturday, wasn't happy with his or his team's lack of discipline with the puck and decisions in the neutral zone.
"We just need to be more focused out there," Horton said. "I felt good and I thought we did some good things, but we all know we can better."
The Bruins looked more like themselves in the third period, but that may have been a result of digesting the first two periods.
"We didn't make as many costly mistakes as we did in the second period," Julien said of his team's third-period effort. "We played more physical, a little more determined along the boards and we moved the puck along the slot area where we had some great scoring chances as well. But we were definitely a little hungrier and I think it was because at one point coming in after the second period, we had to feel embarrassed at what the score was."
The Bruins and Coyotes will face off again at O2 Arena in Prague on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.