By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes suddenly are in a goal-scoring funk at a critical time.
On Friday night, Phoenix managed just one tally in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff series. The Wings lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 set for Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who blanked the Coyotes in Game 4, stopped 30 of Phoenix’s 31 shots in Game 5. Only Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski got the puck past Howard at 9:45 of the second period to tie the score at 1.
The Red Wings took control of the game by scoring two back-handed goals within a span of 70 seconds in the third period. Tomas Holmstrom’s flukey goal at 11:09 – see KEY MOMENT below – appeared to deflate the Coyotes and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 25 saves.
Drew Miller, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg also scored for Detroit.
“Tonight was a great team effort, finding a way to gut out a win on the road,” Howard said.
Howard’s best save of the series - and arguably the season - came early in the third period when he thwarted a bid for a breakaway goal by Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. (Click here to read more about Hanzal’s breakaway.)
After leading the series 2-1, the Coyotes now are one loss away from ending their remarkable season and dropping to 0-6 in first-round playoff series since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett, however, is confident his team will not quit.
"We’ll go in there (on Sunday) and be ready to go,” Tippett said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody and we’ll go in there with that mind-set.”
Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock also is convinced the Coyotes will compete hard on Sunday.
“It’s important how we handle this and respond,” Babcock said. “You don’t want to give them any life whatsoever. They’ve got a good team, a good goaltender. You’d hate to tempt the fates and come back here (for Game 7).”
Tied 1-1 in the third period, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk won a face-off in Phoenix's zone and sent the puck to Nicklas Lidstrom at the left point. Lidstrom shot the puck on net, but Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov blocked it. The puck eluded Bryzgalov and got behind him. Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom pounced on the puck before Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin could get to it and backhanded it into the open net at 11:09.
"(Aucoin) tried to take me away from the net and I jumped behind him," Holmstrom told reporters. "I think the puck went through my arm and got stuck there before it popped out."
Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said: "The puck just sat there. No one knew where it was. It even took their guy a couple of seconds to figure out it was at his feet."
• Coyotes captain Shane Doan missed his second full game of the series because of an undisclosed injury he suffered in Game 3. Head Coach Dave Tippett said Doan is "getting closer" and could be ready for Game 6 on Sunday. Without Doan in the lineup, Tippett opted to play 11 forwards and seven defensemen, including Mathieu Schneider, who made his series debut and played 9:22 of power-play time.
• The Coyotes went 0 for 5 on power plays and are 0 for 19 since starting the series 3 for 3.
• Phoenix has scored just one goal in the past six periods of this series.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette, Shane Doan, Robert Lang, 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.
"It’s tough, especially when you give those guys power plays. (Even) if they don’t score, they’re going to take away a little momentum… We definitely need to be more disciplined."
"It’s a matter of a few mistakes and them capitalizing on their chances. We have to learn from that and start capitalizing on our chances."
"They’re playing hard. It’s been a hard-fought series, but we’ve just got to continue to play the way we’ve been playing."
• 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: DET 4, PHX 1
• GAME 7: April 27, 2010*
1 - 0 DET
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DET
3 - 1 DET
4 - 1 DET