Just when it looked like the Phoenix Coyotes would continue to defy the odds as they have all season long, the hockey machine known as the Detroit Red Wings showed up in Glendale and ruined the party. The Wings took the Coyotes apart bit by bit tonight, rolling to a dominant 6-1 win to end Phoenix’s year and move on to a Western Conference semifinals matchup with the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.
As I’ve said before, in the late games of a series, experience is what matters most, and the Red Wings showed that in bunches tonight. Their best players were out in full force, as Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom both netted two goals and Henrik Zetterberg had 3 assists to blow this game open and silence a raucous crowd at the Jobing.com arena. After a scoreless first saw Ilya Bryzgalov stop 17 shots, the Red Wings poured it on even more in the 2nd, pelting the Coyotes goalie with 22 shots in the 2nd, finishing the game with 50 altogether.
Datsyuk scored the game’s first two goals less than two minutes apart early in the 2nd. his first goal came late in a Detroit powerplay, as a loose puck found it’s way on to his stick and he made no mistake about burying it in the back of the net. Less than two minutes later, he took a long flip pass from Zetterberg at the Phoenix blueline behind every Coyote on the ice, and pulled a beautiful backhand deke on Bryzgalov that you couldn’t help but be impressed with. >
Vernon Fiddler gave the Coyotes a shot of life with his direct shot on a faceoff win against Datsyuk that he slapped right over the pad of Jimmy Howard who never had a chance to get set. Five minutes later though, Lidstrom put the Wings back up by two with a drive from the point on a powerplay that ended Phoenix’s brief comeback. The real backbreaker for the Yotes came with just 5 seconds left in the 2nd period, as defenseman Brad Stuart won a footrace to a loose puck and beat Bryzgalov upstairs to put Detroit up 4-1 heading into the 3rd.
In the 3rd, Todd Bertuzzi scored his first goal of the playoffs driving to the net to bang home a rebound off Valtteri Filppula’s shot. Lidstrom added his 2nd of the game on the powerplay a bit later, sniping a pinpoint accurate shot that was out of the net as quick as it went in, popping the mesh behind the crossbar before bouncing back out. It was a fitting end to a game that saw the veteran talent on the Detroit bench stand up and take total control.
The Coyotes definitely missed the services of captain Shane Doan, one of the few Coyotes with playoff experience, who was kept out of the lineup for the 3rd straight game after being injured in Game 4. While the series didn’t end the way they’d hoped, this season was still an incredible success for a Phoenix club that was supposed to be mired in the league basement this year.