In last year’s playoffs, the Phoenix Coyotes used home ice advantage and physicality to give the Detroit Red Wings a tough fight in their first round series. Ultimately, the Red Wings’ star power prevailed, especially in a dominant seventh game.
The Red Wings played Game 1 at home this time around, and despite a slow start, Detroit’s high-end talent proved too much for Phoenix once again. The Red Wings won 4-2 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Detroit 4, Phoenix 2; Red Wings lead series 1-0
Kyle Turris gave the Coyotes a surprising 1-0 lead just 2:16 into the game and the stingy Phoenix defense managed to hold the lead through the first period. Things fell apart for Dave Tippett’s team in the second period, though, as Detroit’s stars scored three goals. The Red Wings notched four unanswered goals overall before the Coyotes scored to make it 4-2.
Pavel Datsyuk was his typically dazzling self, scoring Detroit’s first goal and frequently showing off his elite dangling abilities. Johan Franzen had a goal and assist in the game, continuing his role as one of those players who elevates his play when the postseason begins. (Unless it’s just a coincidence, as stats bloggers might argue.) Brian Rafalski capped that three-goal second period on the power play while Jiri Hudler made a heads up play on a nice Drew Miller pass to make it 4-1 in the third. Radim Vrbata scored Phoenix’s second and final tally.
Ilya Bryzgalov probably can’t be handed much of the blame, allowing those four goals on 36 shots. Jimmy Howard stopped 26 out of 28 shots to earn another playoff win against the ‘Yotes.
Even without Henrik Zetterberg (the leading scorer for Detroit this season), the Red Wings clearly tower over the Coyotes in terms of marquee talent. Phoenix will need even more from their impending free agent goalie Bryzgalov and much tighter defense if they hope to make this another epic series.
If not, they might have nothing to think about but their ownership issues by early next week.