Faceoffs, special teams fail Wings
The Phoenix Coyotes scored one even-strength goal in a 5-2 win – they also scored three power-play goals and one short-handed – over Detroit in Game 6 to force a deciding Game 7 on Tuesday in Phoenix.
The Wings finished the night 0-for-5 with a man-advantage, and allowed Phoenix to capitalize on 50 percent of their power play attempts.
“That’s probably the game right there,” admitted Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg. “If we would have scored one or two on those chances, the outcome would have been a little different. Their power play was better than ours tonight, their penalty kill was better than us, I think that’s the game.”
Although Phoenix’s first goal was a shorthanded tally early into the first period, the Wings weren’t discouraged.
“You still look at it as, it’s only one goal,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You still have a chance to score one and you’re right back in the game again.”
But pair that with failing to score on a 5-on-3 power play that lasted for 70-seconds in the first period, and it’s hard to gain momentum.
“I think specialty teams let us down today,” said Wings forward Darren Helm, who finished the regular-season tied for fifth in the league with three shorthanded goals. “On the power play we didn’t score, on the penalty kill we gave up way too many, and that’s just not good enough right now.”
Before Sunday, the Wings had killed off 19 consecutive power play attempts by Phoenix.
FACEOFF FAIL: Winning important face-offs was what gave the Wings the edge over Phoenix in their 4-1 win in Friday’s Game 5.
In Game 6, it was the Coyotes who won the draws when it mattered most, especially in the Wings’ defensive zone.
“I thought (Friday) most of our goals came off face-offs,” Helm said. “That happened (Sunday) for them.”
After the Wings had climbed within one – after a Brad Stuart tally made the score 2-1 – Detroit lost two face-offs directly in front of rookie goalie Jimmy Howard about five minutes apart that resulted in two quick goals for Phoenix.
“That’s a key part of games,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “So you got to win face-offs, there’s no question about it that they’ve given us trouble in this series with that.”
Helm said they Wings know that they have to improve on that aspect of the game in order to win Game 7 and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
“The faceoff circle is really important,” he said. “Our centermen’s got to bear down and make sure we’re not giving up that draw easy, and making sure that we’re winning it back.”