Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7 (4/27/10)

Tonight the Red Wings and Coyotes went head to head in game seven. It was the first game seven of Jimmy Howard’s NHL career so the pressure was on. The Coyotes’ goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, had been playing extremely well. The Red Wings would have to score early to rattle him and get some momentum.

Shane Doan was a game time decision but was not able to go tonight.

The Wings had a great scoring chance in the first period and Hanzal had to take a penalty to prevent it. On the power play the Red Wings were all over the Coyotes but Bryzgalov somehow stopped them on several shots that should have been easy goals. It seemed like he might have been getting in their heads a little bit. There were so many chances where Bryzgalov was down or out of position and they just couldn’t get it past him.

At the other end Jimmy Howard looked sharp as well although he wasn’t called upon much. Phoenix had a power play of their own but the Red Wings shut them down.

The first period ended with no score. The shots were 17 to 6 in favor of Detroit. It was a good period for the Wings but the longer Phoenix goes without giving up a goal the more confident they become. It was important for Detroit not to get discouraged or let Bryzgalov get in their heads.

Early in the second period the Wings had another power play when Hanzal was called for slashing. They continued the pressure and, unfortunately, the bad puck luck. At one point Zetterberg had a wide open net and the puck bounced over his stick. It was starting to look like the Red Wings were cursed. Then Lidstrom carried the puck in deep behind the net with Datsyuk and Franzen on either side of the slot and Holmstrom in front. Lidstrom sent it back towards Franzen but it hit somebody and bounced to Datsyuk instead. He settled it down and fired the puck into the back of the net making it one to nothing. That finally got the monkey off their backs.

A few minutes later Eaves was called for tripping. On the penalty kill Helm had a shorthanded breakaway. He was hooked by Aucoin so that negated the Eaves penalty and made it four on four for over a minute and a half. During the four on four Rafalski passed to Zetterberg who hit Datsyuk in stride entering the Phoenix end. He was in behind the defense. He took it to the net like it was a shootout. He made a sweet backhand fake and burned Bryzgalov with a wrister to make it two to nothing Wings. That was the second Datsyuk goal in 1:40.

Jimmy Howard made a couple of monster saves right after that goal to maintain the score.

The Wings killed off another penalty but just after it expired there was a faceoff deep in their own zone. Fiddler won it right to Jimmy Howard. He wasn’t expecting the shot to come so quickly. It hit his stick and bounced into the net to put the Coyotes on the board.

Phoenix seemed to draw a lot of energy from that goal. The crowd was electric. It was important for Detroit to weather that storm or possibly even score. They came very close a few times on the next shift. It was the fourth line guys and Cleary was really tenacious. The pressure helped kill the Coyotes’ momentum and shortly thereafter Aucoin was called for holding Holmstrom during their net-front battle.

On the power play Bertuzzi buried the puck but it was after a very quick whistle that went almost as soon as the puck touched Bryzgalov. The Wings continued to pressure on the power play and it seemed like they had about 100 quality scoring chances. They had the Coyotes pinned deep and on their heels with the Red Wings firing shot after shot at Bryzgalov. The Coyotes were out of gas. Just as the power play was about to expire Lidstrom ripped one from the blue line and got it through the traffic and into the net to make it three to one Wings.

Towards the end of the period Miller fell down into Yandle and tripped him up accidentally. He was called for tripping. During the Phoenix power play Lombardi was called for interference but they also called Helm for diving. It looked to me like he just kept his feet moving and that’s why he went down. I don’t see how they call that a dive. Later in the same power play there was some mayhem in front of the Red Wings net and Stuart was called for hooking so the Coyotes had a 5 on 3 power play for 1:12. Phoenix called their timeout to set it up.

It was a huge kill for the Red Wings and a pivotal moment in the game but they got it done. Just after the second penalty ended Stuart came out of the box and picked up an errant pass. He took off on a breakaway. He stumbled, made a move and scored on Bryzgalov with under five seconds left in the period. That made it four to one and completely deflated the Coyotes. That’s how the second period ended.

In the third period the Red Wings put it in shut down mode. They were all over the Coyotes. The Wings were still generating chances but they weren’t allowing much at all in their own end.

Before the halfway point of the period Filppula shot and Bryzgalov gave up a rebound that went right up the slot. Bertuzzi was flying in and he tapped it by Bryzgalov to add a little more insurance. That made it five to one Wings.

A few minutes later Fiddler was called for a double minor, one for interference and one for roughing. During the power play some idiot threw a bottle on the ice but play was allowed to continue. Lidstrom ripped a shot from the faceoff dot and put it in the top, far corner of the net. The game was pretty much done with the score six to one.

The Coyotes killed off the second minor and the score held until the end of the game.

What a great game this was for Detroit. After a discouraging but well-played first period, the Red Wings took total control of the game. They completely dominated. Everybody played very well. Jimmy Howard was fantastic.

The Coyotes seemed like a pretty tough challenge for the Wings but they’re nothing compared to their second round opponent.  The Sharks await.

This was a great first round for the Wings. Let’s keep it going, guys!

This 6-1 win finishes this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at 4-3 Red Wings.

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