If you want to point to a potential turning point in this Western Conference Quarterfinal, look at a 3:48 stretch in the third period of Tuesday night's Game 4.
With Johan Franzen already in the penalty box for a questionable roughing call that had him incensed all the way to the door, Andreas Lilja had his stick catch in Martin Hanzal's mid-section. That put the Detroit Red Wings down two men for 17 seconds and extended the power play. With the Red Wings holding a single goal lead on a Henrik Zetterberg tally over the Phoenix Coyotes, the fans at Joe Louis Arena seemed to tense up.
But Detroit managed to kill both penalties, then open up the floodgates with a pair of goals just 25 seconds apart from Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg to seal a 3-0 win and even the series at two games each, with Game 5 coming Friday night in Arizona.
Jimmy Howard, whose performance in Game 3 caused some doubts to creep into the picture, eliminated them with a vengeance, blocking all 29 shots from Phoenix to earn his first career playoff shutout.
With Phoenix captain Shane Doan out with an upper body injury for this game, the pressure seemed to be on the "Czech Line" of the Coyotes. But Radim Vrbata, Petr Prucha and Hanzal were held to six shots and a pair of penalties, the second of which from Hanzal led to the Red Wings first goal of the night.
Brian Rafalski was along the near side boards near the blue line. He passed the puck across to Niklas Kronwall, whose shot deflected off Zetterberg's raised stick, past Bertuzzi's stick and into the top corner of the net, banking off the corner of the post. There was a review of the goal to see if the stick was high, (Ilya Bryzgalov quickly barked to the official after the light shone) but the replay officials did not overturn it.
In the third period, Detroit would ice it with a pair of goals. First, Franzen fired a cross-ice pass along to a waiting Datsyuk. His shot went just above off Bryzgalov's glove, off the post, and into the net for his second of the series. Nicklas Lidstrom picked up the second assist.
Moments later, what seemed to be an icing call was negated when Todd Bertuzzi kicked into overdrive and beat Ed Jovanovski to the puck. After Bertuzzi skated behind the net with the puck, he left it for Zetterberg along the near boards. Zetterberg skated around Jovanovski and dumped the puck towards the crease, where it deflected off the back of Bryzgalov and into the net to earn his second point of the game and fifth goal in the playoffs, leading the NHL in playoffs goals. Brad Stuart also picked up an assist on the play.
The Red Wings peppered Bryzgalov with 35 shots.
Player of the Game: Henrik Zetterberg. For reasons that go beyond comprehension, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily didn't even put Zetterberg in the three stars. Not to dismiss Howard's stellar performance, but Zetterberg is simply on fire right now with seven points in three games.