GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 06: Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes awaits a face off against the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on February 6, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. Whitney is playing in his 1,200th career NHL game. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The final meeting of the season between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings featured the usual back and forth action we've come to expect when the two meet. What was surprising this time around was both team's power plays combined for three special teams goals. While Detroit out shot Phoenix (31 -23) and was the better team in the faceoff circle (57% to 43%), the Desert Dogs were the team to come away victorious by a score of 3-1.
The Coyotes came out and controlled much of the first period with an effort similar to the ones they had in their two prior games. Phoenix started the scoring off with Boyd Gordon scored an unassisted with less than 20 seconds to go on a Martin Hanzal tripping penalty. Gilbert Brule and Ray Whitney, among others, had opportunities to extend the lead in the opening period but could not.
The second period started off with the Red Wings looking a bit more energetic. However, Detroit took back to back penalties that not only killed any momentum they had, but the second penalty, a tripping call on Pavel Datsyuyk led to a Coyote power play goal. The goal created when a Ray Whitney shot bounced off Martin Hanzal and past Detroit netminder Joey McDonald at the6:55 mark of the second period. Two and a half minutes later the Coyotes turned the puck over and Darren Helm sped down the left win and got off a shot on Mike Smith. Smith was up to the task, as he was all night long. The stay tilted the Wings way for much of the second half of the frame. The Coyotes Rostislav Klesla took a penalty for shooting the puck over the glass with less than three minutes to go in the period. It took just ten seconds of power play time for Johan Franzen, who was standing just outside, to knock a pass from teammate Henrik Zetterberg past Mike Smith to bring the Detroit deficit back to one goal.
The final frame included a wealth of failed scoring opportunities for both teams. Pavel Datsyuk looked like he might tie the game up at the halfway mark of the period after Mike Smith was sprawled out, but Datsyuk's shot went through the crease instead of into the net. Immediately following the Detroit center's chance the Coyotes had three straight scoring chances in a row, but none went into the net. Shane Doan took a penalty. The Coyotes looked to be hanging on to their one goal lead by skate string in the last minutes of the period. However, unlike the last two meetings between the two clubs this one wasn't destined to go into extra time. Martin Hanzal sealed the deal with an empty net walk in with 29 seconds to go in the contest.
The Coyotes are right back at it again tomorrow night against the Dallas Stars.
- Playing in his 1200th game Ray Whitney looked like a youngster. His energy and play with the puck set the tone early in the game.
- Like almost every night since Dave Tippett put them together early in the season, the Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata line was the best line of the night. However, the Pyatt-Chipchura-Brule line wasn't far behind. They keep tilting the ice the Coyotes way and had several scoring opportunities.
- Being on positive end of a special teams battle feels odd, yet quite enjoyable.
- I barely noticed Daymond Langkow much of the evening. This has been an all too common occurrence this season. He was only on the ice for 11:21 and was the guy who killed the Yotes in the dot winning only 3 of 11 faceoffs.
- Michal Rozsival was noticeable on both ends of the ice. He helped keep the puck in deep several times when pinching in and made several sound positional plays in his own zone as well. However, he did get caught pinching on a play that led to the Darren Helm scoring chance in the second period. I doubt the Coyotes coaching staff ever want to see Mikkel Boedker attempting to cover for a defensemen again anytime soon.
Five For Winning
1. Puck Possession. The more the Coyotes have the pucks, the more Datsyuk and Zetterberg don't. The Coyotes didn't exactly play keep away, but they did do a good jump on trying to sustain possession when they had the puck until late in the third period.
2. Don't allow #13 space on the ice. If you give Datsyuk space (or time) he makes you pay. He has a team high five assists against the Yotes this season. I thought the Coyotes did a good job for the most part taking away time and space from the Wings skilled players.
3. End it in regulation. The Coyotes have lost two of three match-ups against Detroit so far this season in shootouts. Goal accomplished.
4. Discipline. This is an area the Coyotes have done fairly well in all year. They can't afford to take penalties against a team with a good power play like Detroit. The Yotes didn't take any truly stupid penalties, but the last two, Klesla & Doan took were ones they didn't need to.
5. Pepper the net. The Coyotes have been out shot by the Wings 109 to 92 in their three meetings so far this season. The trend needs to be reversed this evening. The Coyotes may have only gotten 23 shots on goal, but they were a threat to score throughout the contest.
Our Three Stars
1. Mike Smith - Stopped 30 of 31 Detroit shots for a .968 save %.
2. Ray Whitney - two assists. As he has been all season long, he was the guy driving the bus on the offensive end.
3. Martin Hanzal - two goals. He now has three goals and an assist in his last two games.