Coyotes' power-play highlights Game 6 win
The Coyotes’ power-play unit, which had been held scoreless on their last 19 opportunities, found the back of the net three times Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. That, combined with a shorthanded goal by in the first period, helped the Coyotes control the momentum to force a deciding game.
The Coyotes are looking to win their first playoff series since the franchise moved from Winnipeg. The last time the franchise won a series was when the Jets defeated the Calgary Flames in six games in 1987.
“It’s definitely an exciting time right now,” Coyotes defenseman Mathieu Schneider said. “A lot of guys here haven’t been in this situation, and I think it’s up to guys like myself and Robert Lang to keep things a little calm, but it’s an exciting time, and we’re looking forward to going home. Winner takes all.”
Defenseman Keith Yandle said that playing a Game 7 will be a great moment for an organization that dealt with bankruptcy and a new coach in Tippett during training camp.
“It’s going to be big,” Yandle said. “It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be good for our team, good for our organization and our city, and it’s going to be really fun.”
Jovanovski said that those situations have helped them deal with the pressure of the playoffs.
“It’s huge for us,” Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said of securing a Game 7. “Detroit’s a good team, and you respect their talent, but we’ve got a good team over here too. We’ve found ways all year to respond in situations where we’ve faced a little adversity, and there is no bigger adversity than when your back’s up against the wall in Game 6 in the other team’s barn, so we’ll come home and feel good about it and carry it over to Game 7.”
Despite early penalty trouble on Sunday, the Coyotes’ defense managed to stave off that stretch of adversity.
The Wings ended up with a 70-second five-on-three power-play and failed to convert. In the same stretch of time, Lauri Korpikoski stole the puck in front of the Wings’ bench and raced in to beat goaltender Jimmy Howard five-hole to earn the early lead.
Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the Phoenix penalty-killers’ play in the first five minutes saved the game.
“We took some penalties, Bryzgalov was excellent, we had some penalty killers do a real good job for us, and we were able to get a shorthanded goal to boot,” Tippett said. “So we stopped their momentum, we got ourselves a lead in the game, and we weathered a huge storm there.”
Jovanovski praised Bryzgalov, who made 14 saves in the first period and 31 on the night.
“He was our best player, and he’s done that for us all year,” Jovanovski said. “It definitely got him into the game, feeling pucks, and he kept it going right through the end.”
The Coyotes stayed out of the penalty box for the duration of the second period, while taking advantage of four penalties by the Wings. Power-play goals by Schneider and Radim Vrbata advanced the Coyotes’ lead and a third-period power-play goal by Taylor Pyatt put them up 5-1.
Schneider was quick to point out that it was only one game when he was asked about his team’s power-play success.
“It’s one game,” the veteran defenseman said. “I wouldn’t say we solved it, but it worked tonight. I thought that the fundamentals were there tonight. When you look at the power play, we moved it, we had some really good puck movement, had really good shots.”
Lang said the Coyotes’ success came from puck possession, and their ability to keep control of the rebounds during their man-advantage opportunities.
“Whenever you do that,” Lang said, “you get second chances, and they get a little bit running around, out of the box that they are used to. So it was kind of a combination or hard work and some pretty good passing around, and it just clicked. “