By Dave Vest
DETROIT -- The Coyotes wanted to play a slow-paced, low-scoring game in Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series with Detroit on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena. They did that for just over 55 minutes, but their offense was stymied for the whole 60 minutes by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, and Detroit won 3-0 to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
The series shifts back to Glendale for Game 5 on Friday night at Jobing.com Arena.
"We got home-ice back, and now we have to defend it," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to listen to Tippett's post-game press conference.
Howard, a 26-year-old rookie, stopped all 29 shots he faced to earn his first NHL playoff shutout. He made 14 of those saves in the second period.
The Red Wings played with great urgency and avoided a second consecutive home defeat to the upstart Coyotes.
"They were a very determined team without a doubt," Tippett said.
With both teams clogging the neutral zone and limiting opposing forwards' space and time with the puck, the game remained scoreless for 35-plus minutes.
That changed, however, at 15:33 of the second period when Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg deflected a shot from the point by Nicklas Kronwall past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov during Detroit’s fourth and final power play.
Some of the Coyotes felt the goal should not have counted because they believed Zetterberg’s stick was above the crossbar when he deflected the puck. Video officials reviewed the goal, but none of their camera angles could determine that claim to be true and the goal was allowed.
The Coyotes, who were playing without injured captain Shane Doan, had an excellent chance to tie the score in the middle of the third period when they went on a five-on-three power play for 17 seconds. Phoenix did not execute the play Head Coach Dave Tippett wanted during the two-man advantage and failed to get the puck past Howard.
Trailing 1-0 late in the third period, the Coyotes loosened their defense hoping to create some chances on offense. It backfired, and the Red Wings secured the victory when Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg scored even-strength goals 25 seconds apart within the final five minutes of the game.
"This is what I expected our series to be like before we got into it," Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock said. "I expected it to be real tight. I thought our team was patient and we got some timely goals."
The Coyotes went 0 for 6 on power plays, and are 0 for 14 since going 3 for 3 to start the series.
"I thought our opportunities were a lot from the outside," Tippett said. "Part of that is their penalty kill has done a good job of getting to the lanes."
Late in the second period, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard preserved a 1-0 lead by making a key save on a slap shot by Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle's shot knocked Howard's mask off his head. Sans mask, Howard then dived to make a save on another shot by Lee Stempniak.
• Coyotes captain Shane Doan missed his first game of the season because of an undisclosed injury he suffered in Game 3 on Sunday.
• Center Vernon Fiddler returned to the lineup after missing Game 3 because of an upper-body injury. Fiddler played 13:22, delivered two hits, blocked a shot and won nine of 14 face-offs.
• After scoring at least one goal in every period of the first three games, the Coyotes were blanked in all three periods of Game 4.
• The Coyotes won 20 of 27 face-offs in the first period but won just 10 of 34 draws over the final 40 minutes.
• Before Tuesday’s game, the last time the Coyotes were shut out in a playoff game was Game 7 of the their first-round series vs. St. Louis in 1999.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette, Shane Doan, Mathieu Schneider, Viktor Tikhonov and Jim Vandermeer. The Red Wings scratched Doug Janik, Jakub Kindl, Daniel Larsson, Brett Lebda, Brad May, Thomas McCollum, Derek Meech, Logan Pyett, Mattias Ritola and Jason Williams.
"We knew it was going to be a long series and we knew they were a good team. It's a very tight series. A bounce here or a bounce there is the way it's going to go."
"Now it's a three-game series. We feel good going home. We've just got to capitalize on some of our chances, execute a little better and I think we'll be fine."
"I'm going to enjoy it here for a couple minutes. Then, just like I did the other night (after losing Game 3), forget about it and get ready for Friday night."
• GAME 3: PHX 4, DET 2
• GAME 4: DET 3, PHX 0
• GAME 6: April 25, 2010
• GAME 1: PHX 3, DET 2
• GAME 2: DET 7, PHX 4
• GAME 5: April 23, 2010
• GAME 7: April 27, 2010*
1 - 0 DET
2 - 0 DET
3 - 0 DET