Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Four

Red Wings sweep away Coyotes, win Game 4 6-3; An uncertain summer awaits in Phoenix

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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.

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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.

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Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.