The Coyotes looked like the team that played so tough for most of the season for about 50 minutes worth of the game tonight. Through that time, they put the Red Wings back on their heels and forcing them to fight back in the game. But when it all came down to it, it was the Red Wings coming out on top 6-3 thanks to a crazy goal from Dan Cleary in the third to put Detroit up for good and into the second round sweeping the Coyotes 4-0 in the series.
When Tomas Holmstrom kicked off the scoring just over three minutes into the game, it had that sort of feel like, “Here we go again,” for the Coyotes. But Phoenix fired back fast with a pair of goals from Taylor Pyatt and Shane Doan getting some puck luck to put them past Jimmy Howard (24 saves) to take a 2-1 lead. Detroit would tie it up heading to the second thanks to Patrick Eaves scoring his first of two goals on the night.
It was more of the same in the second period as Martin Hanzal would get Phoenix ahead 3-2 just 1:09 into the period but again Detroit wouldn’t be held down as Niklas Kronwall would score a power play goal to tie it at 3-3 just 3:40 later. As the game rolled into the third, fortune would change for Phoenix as the teams traded chances. Then it was Cleary scoring from an impossible angle as he caught Ilya Bryzgalov (34 saves) cheating off his post ever so slightly to bank the puck in off his leg to give Detroit the lead.
From there, Todd Bertuzzi would score his first of the playoffs while Eaves would add his second of the game into an empty net to provide the final tally and send the Coyotes off the ice at Jobing.com Arena perhaps for the last time in Glendale, Arizona. Detroit now moves on to the second round of the playoffs and they’ll have some time to rest up and get healthy. Just think, this Red Wings team was able to sweep out a good Phoenix team from the postseason without their best player in Henrik Zetterberg. While the Wings certainly showed some weaknesses they found ways to overcome all of them.
For the Coyotes it’s a tough way to end the season and for the franchise with things looking so uncertain as to whether or not they’ll actually be back in Arizona next year, going out with a whimper like this makes it all the more depressing. Now with things looking the darkest they have in the team’s existence in the desert we’re hoping that the fans in Arizona aren’t left to hate the NHL and ensure that no one in the state of Arizona ever becomes a hockey fan in the future. We’re not rooting against Winnipeg ever getting a team, we’re just hoping it doesn’t come at the expense of the loving and wonderful fans that do call the desert home.
Here are the highlights of tonight’s game from Versus.