Everyone was wondering where Henrik Zetterberg was in Game 1 of the Red Wings’ matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes. Wonder no more, because the Swedish center netted a hat trick in Game 2, propelling the Wings to a decisive 7-4 victory to even the series before it heads back to the Joe Louis Arena on Sunday. Friday night’s game in Phoenix was a wild one with 5 lead changes and 11 goals in a surprising explosion of offense from these two teams.
Phoenix led the way for most of the first two periods, although the Red Wings were quick to answer after most of the Coyotes’ goals. Keith Yandle scored the game’s first goal, and his second of the postseason, as the Phoenix blueline continues to be effective in the offensive zone. Zetterberg scored his first goal early in the 2nd, finishing off a great powerplay rush from Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula, but Wojtek Wolski put the Coyotes back ahead with a great individual effort, stripping Kronwall of the puck and flipping it past Howard less than a minute after Zetterberg scored. >
A minute after Wolski’s goal, Detroit’s other star center, Pavel Datsyuk somehow got ahold of a pass through traffic and was able to knife it through both Ilya Bryzgalov and a Phoenix defenseman’s legs. Phoenix climbed back on top just over a minute later, as Matthew Lombardi snuck behind the Detroit blueline and streaked in on a breakaway, slipping the puck between Jimmy Howard’s pads to give the Coyotes a 3-2 lead. Detroit answered right away again, though, as Todd Bertuzzi took a crushing hit from Ed Jovanoski at center ice to flip a puck into the Phoenix zone, and Filppula out hustled Zbynek Michalek to the puck before scoring the tie the game at 3-3.
In the 3rd, the game’s frantic pace continued, as Justin Abdelkader gave Detroit their first lead of the night just over 2 and a half minutes in, but this time, it was the Coyotes turn to answer. Captain Shane Doan corralled a pass at the goal mouth and just slid it over the line before a sprawling Howard could get back in time. However, in the last half of the 3rd, it was all Detroit, as Henrik Zetterberg scored his 2nd goal of the night with a nice rebound put-in, followed by Filppula’s 2nd of the night, as well. Zetterberg would finish off the hat trick with an empty netter that he scored from his own end.
If the first two games were any indication, this series will be a close fought battle down to the end. The Wings have the experience and the starpower and it showed in Game 2, but the Coyotes are a tough, young scrappy team that doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit”.