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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Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.