Western Conference Quarterfinals - Detroit Leads Series 2-0
The Phoenix Coyotes faced a 3-0 deficit heading into Game Four of their Western Conference Quarterfinal Playoff Series against the Detroit Red Wings. The only thing more daunting than the series deficit may have been the team that created it. The Coyotes played their best game of the series, but that was not enough as they fell to the Wings by a score of 6-3. The Desert Dogs went toe to toe for two plus periods with the guys from Motown, but in the end Detroit constant pressure again wore the Coyotes down.
With prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer in the crowd, the game started much like Game 3, with the Red Wings scoring less than four minutes into the game. The goal was created by Pavel Datsuk that was finished off by Tomas Holstrom. Unlike Monday however, the Coyotes with a goal of their own shortly after. Taylor Pyatt had his shot deflect of a Wing skate to tie the game. Coyotes Captain Shane Doan scored on a five hole shot that squeeked between Jimmy Howard's pads and barely across the goal line. Doan almost had a breakaway later in the period that was broken up by a veteran poke check by Nicklas Lidstrom. Ilya Bryzgalov then took to the stage making two big saves late in the period. Unfortunately, less than two minutes before the period ended Keith Yandle was violently separated from the puck behind his own net by Darren Helm. Helm then took the puck went around the back of the net and passed it to Patrick Eaves on the opposite side of the net for an easy tap in. The period ended with the Coyotes on the power play.
The 2nd period started with non-stop action as the teams trading power play tallies in the first 5 minutes of the frame. Martin Hanzal scored 1st on a nice pass by Ray Whitney. Whitney almost had another assist on a 2 on 1 with Kyle Turris, but Turris wasn't able to get off much of a shot and Howard was able to get his pad in the way. After Lauri Korpikoski went to the box Niklas Kronwall quickly scored to tie the game. Turris had another opportunity to score at the 7:51 mark of the period, but was again denied by Howard. The Coyotes were able to kill a tripping penalty on Defensemen Davis Schlemko which left 5 minutes to go in the period. Kyle Turris was called for high sticking Darren Helm with less than two minutes to go in the period. The call appeared to be extremely questionable. A man down the Coyotes were able to protect their net for the rest of the period. The period ended with a roar of appreciation for the penalty killers from the sold out arena.
The 3rd period began with the Coyotes killing off the remaining time on the Turris penalties. The teams then traded chances and end to end rushes. This ended at 6:13 of the period when Brad Stuart took a delay of game penalty. The resulting Coyotes power play failed to produce. The best chance on the PP actually belonged to the Wings who had a two on one breakway that they couldn't convert on. Later in the period Davis Schelmko made a nice diving poke check on former Coyote Dan Cleary to prevent Cleary from being able to go in all alone on the Yotes net.
Schlemko's play was to be the last highlight of the season. With less than 7 minutes to go in the game Cleary was once again at the center of things. This time he scored on wrister. Less than two minutes later Todd Bertuzzi scored another goal to make the score 5-3. Patrick Eaves scored an empty netter with 36 seconds left to cap off the Wings sweep.
- Coach Dave Tippett's center changes really seemed to jump start the team.
- Ray Whitney was flying around like a guy half his age all night.
- Vern Fiddler's struggles in the faceoff circle continued.
- The crowd cheered when the jumbotron showed Hulziser in attendance.
- Taylor Pyatt was finally rewarded for all his net crashing in the series.
- Speaking of net crashing, the Dogs forwards did a much better job of consistently going to the net in Game 4.
- The Coyotes blueline struggles in their own zone continued. Darren Helm's play on Yandle was indicative of what went on all series long. The Coyotes had no answer for the Wings forecheck.
- Ilya Bryzgalov certainly wasn't on the top of his game for much of the series, but given the amount of scoring chances a skilled team like the Wings were given in the 4 games I'm not sure an "on" Bryz would have stopped the Wings from winning the series.
- The Wings were again impressive. Even without Johan Franzen in the lineup (scratched due to injury) their lines were able to create quality scoring chances.
Coach Tippett's Press Conference: