The Red Wings and Coyotes resumed their series after 2 days off, and it was the Wings that looked like they put the extra time to good use. They came out and opened up a huge lead, and while we were lighting cigars and putting our feet up, the Wings allowed the Coyotes to come back and make what should have been a blowout into a close game.
The Red Wings opened the scoring on a power play. After Vernon Fiddler failed to clear the zone, Nicklas Lidstrom got a pass over to Datsyuk, who curled towards the middle of the net and fired the puck through a screen and past Ilya Bryzgalov. The Wings increased their lead, again on the power play. After a moronic slashing penalty by Michal Rozsival, Brian Rafalski's point shot went along the ice and through Bryzgalov's legs, giving the Wings a 2-0 lead. Late in the period, Pavel Datsyuk's rebound was deposited by Darren Helm to give the Wings a 3-goal lead (I thought about trying to verbalize what happened there, but all that came out was hsjyiuerknv,m kjhg, so I'll find video instead).
Early in the second period, the Wings did not let up. Datsyuk's shot went wide, but he was able to get the puck back to the point to Valtteri Filppula. His shot was tipped in by the greatest net-front presence in the game today, Tomas Holmstrom, and the rout was on (or so it seemed at the time). The Coyotes got on the board when Radim Vrbata converted a pass from Shane Doan. Vrbata's shot went through Kris Draper and into the net, and the shutout was gone.
Like a lot of you, I figured the game was pretty much over at that point. I was completely wrong. Follow the jump to see why this one was a lot closer than it should have been.
In the third, the Wings settled into a prevent defense, and the Coyotes started to surge. Todd Bertuzzi took a slashing penalty against Kyle Turris, and on the ensuing power play, Shane Doan collected the garbage in front of Howard and made it 4-2. The penalty parade continued, with Franzen and Helm taking back-to-back penalties to give the Coyotes their second 2-man advantage of the series. This time, the Coyotes converted, with Shane Doan ripping a slap shot past a screened Howard to bring the Yotes to within a goal. The final half of the third was frantic, but the Coyotes could not get that 4th goal to tie the game.
- Talk about a tale of two games. The first 30 minutes were completely dominated by the Red Wings, who were determined not to have a slow start for the second straight game. However, as we've seen far too often this season, once they got that big lead, they sat back and allowed the Coyotes to get back in the game. It was mentioned more than once during the broadcast that the Coyotes came back from being down 4-1 earlier this season against the Wings to win, and this should give them confidence. To that I say this: the Wings also remember what happened, and they did not allow the Coyotes to complete the comeback. That's important going forward. It means the Wings have beaten the Yotes both after a slow start and after a slow finish.
Johan Franzen is the epitome of a hockey player. He takes a hit from Shane Doan (and despite a ton of people who feel otherwise, I thought it was an unfortunate hit but not illegal), slams his face into the boards, gets 21 stitches and misses just over a period. When he comes back, he declines a visor or other protection for his face. Contrast this with Ed Jovonavski, who takes a legal (yes, it was legal) hit from Darren Helm, is able to get up and grab Helm by the throat in a choking manner, but then misses the rest of the game (all while wearing a face mask). The next person who calls the Wings "soft" will be directed to these two sequences of events, and then told to find another argument.
- Dear Phoenix: you can not stop Pavel Datsyuk. You can only hope to contain him. And you failed miserably today. He was by far the most dominant player on the ice for either team. Yes, I know Doan had 3 points, but he was not a threat to score every time he touched the puck like Datsyuk was. He is also not nearly the defensive force that Datsyuk is, and Pavel was throwing the body around today (right Andrew Ebbet?). The move he made on the third Wing goal will go down as one of the highlights of the year, and made me feel things that not many people can. He is without question your player of the game.
- The refs. Look, we all hate them. The discussion on Twitter after the game centered on some of the calls. I am going on record as saying that I do not think the Wings were particularly hurt by them in this game. I question the Helm penalty and the Filppula "interference" penalty (which was a total make-up call), but the Wings went partially stupid in the third and the Coyotes nearly made them pay. Of course, the same could be said of the Coyotes in the first period, but Phoenix generated all of their offense on the power play, while the Wings were the dominant team 5-on-5. The broadcasters (I refuse to name them) said that the end of the game was something Phoenix can build on; I disagree completely. It's something for the Wings to remember: don't take any stupid penalties and you won't allow the Coyotes to get back in the game. The Wings are the more talented team in this series.
- Pertinent stats for today. Wings were outshot 33-31; Wings outhit the Coyotes 41-38; Wings were 2-4 on the power play while the Coyotes were 3-7; Wings won 64% of the faceoffs; Nicklas Lidstrom is now the all-time leader in playoff +/- as he is now +55 in his career, a stat that means absolutely nothing (just like in the regular season).