GLENDALE, ARIZ. -- The Phoenix Coyotes score three power-play goals in a game almost as rarely as they host a playoff game – but both happened Wednesday and produced yet another rarity.
Keith Yandle, Wojtek Wolski and Derek Morris scored in the first, second and third periods respectively while goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 38 saves and the Coyotes beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series before a sold-out, white-clad crowd.
The Coyotes, who finished 28th in the League on the power play this season and ended the season with an 0-for-20 drought, picked the right night to end their slump by scoring three power-play goals for only the third time all season. The win snapped a string of seven straight Game 1 playoff losses for the franchise – including 0-for-5 in Phoenix – dating back to 1992, when the Winnipeg Jets beat Vancouver.
Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom scored for Detroit, which outshot the Coyotes 20-7 in the first period but slowly lost the momentum as the Coyotes regained their composure and, eventually, the lead.
"We have to play better, and we have to play harder for longger," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The bottom line is you have to score -- it's not about chances. You have to give them credit; I thought they got stronger as the game went on I thought we were better early than them, and I thought they were better late than us."
Morris scored only his second goal since arriving from Boston in a March 3 trade. Matthew Lombardi won a draw in the left circle back to Morris at the center point. No one came out to play him, so Morris walked in to about 35 feet and got all of a slap shot that beat Jimmy Howard 2:19 into the third period. It gave the Coyotes their first lead of the night -- and one they wouldn’t surrender.
"Our special teams have to be better," Babcock said.
The Red Wings dominated from the opening faceoff, putting 18 shots and constant pressure on Bryzgalov in the first period. But an innocent-looking 30-foot wrist shot by Holmstrom from beyond the left circle that Bryzgalov missed with his glove at 12:17 put Detroit in front.
However, the Coyotes needed only nine seconds with the man advantage to pull even. With Shane Doan screening Howard, Keith Yandle’s straightaway 50-foot wrister went through traffic and into the net at 14:13.
The Red Wings answered 3:14 later with a power-play goal of their own. With Holmstrom shrouding Bryzgalov, Nicklas Lidstrom’s low shot skidded through and Detroit took a 2-1 lead to the dressing room.
But the Coyotes pulled even at 6:15 of the second on another power play when Yandle, playing the left point, skimmed a perfect diagonal pass into the right circle for Wojtek Wolski , who beat Howard cleanly to tie the game."
Shift of the game: The Phoenix power play, a weak point of the team all season, came up huge with three goals in four chances. The Coyotes needed only nine seconds for the first tally by Keith Yandle and just 44 second for Wojtek Wolski's goal in the second period. But the game-winner came suddenly: Matthew Lombardi won a draw in the left circle back to Derek Morris, who found no one coming out to play him. With plenty of time, Morris took a couple of strides before teeing up a slap shot that beat Jimmy Howard cleanly at 2:19 of the third period. The Coyotes were rocky in their most consistent area – 5-on-5 hockey – but won the battle of the special teams against the Wings.
Wrist shot -
1 - 0 DET
Wrist shot -
1 - 1 Tie