Wings don't take the bait
Coyotes set physical trap, but Wings kept their cool
It didn’t happen much – if at all – in his illustrious Hall of Fame career.
Same is true for Nicklas Lidstrom, who rarely gets hit like he was late in the first period of Monday’s 4-2 victory in a pivotal Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Jobing.com Arena. The Wings now have a commanding 3-0 series lead and can complete a series sweep with a win Wednesday night back at Jobing.com Arena.
Playing in his 250th career playoff game, Lidstrom was a target all night long for the Coyotes’ forwards, who seemingly were on a mission to rattle the Red Wings by physically abusing the future Hall of Fame defenseman.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the Wings weren’t taking the bait.
“We’re not doing that; we’re just going to play,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “So I don’t think we were as physical as we were the first two games and didn’t spend as much time in the offensive zone as we did the previous games, but that’s how we’re going to be physical. It won’t be after the whistle. To me that’s wasted energy.”
The first hit on Lidstrom was probably the hardest hit that he’s absorbed since Colorado’s Ian Laperriere caught Detroit’s captain with a high hit along the boards in February 2008. The hit left Lidstrom to fall awkwardly against the boards, sidelining him for a few weeks with a sprained right knee.
With the Wings leading 2-0 on Monday, the Coyotes began to surge a bit late when Taylor Pyatt became Public Enemy No. 1.
Pyatt laid out Lidstrom, who never saw the former first-round draft pick of the Islanders coming. Before the hit, Lidstrom was tracking Coyotes forward Lee Stempniak behind the Wings’ net when out of nowhere, came the 6-foot-3 Pyatt, who lower a right shoulder into the captain.
A small scrum ensued when Kris Draper went after Pyatt.
If nothing else, some felt that Pyatt should have received an interference penalty for hitting Lidstrom who did not have the puck at the time of the hit.
“I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say,” Lidstrom said.
The second time that the Coyotes went after Lidstrom they were penalized. This time Shane Doan acted irrationally when, after a whistle, the Coyotes’ captain cross-checked Lidstrom in the middle of the back.
“I thought we responded real well as a team,” Lidstrom said. “Facing a good team like that we knew that they were going to put a goof forecheck on us and be aggressive. We were just trying to respond back and wait for our chances.”
Doan went after Lidstrom in the second period. This time, it paid off when the Coyotes’ pressure in the offensive zone harried the Wings’ into a Justin Abdelkader hooking penalty.
On the ensuing power play, a goal by defenseman David Schlemko from a near improbable angle – at the bottom of the left circle – trimmed the Coyotes’ deficit to 3-1 in the second period.
Pyatt continued to play the villain role later in the game when he hit Patrick Eaves with an open-ice blind-side elbow to the head. There was no penalty on the play. Eaves left the bench area for a time, but did re-enter the game later in the third.