DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings fell behind soon after the puck dropped and their parade to the penalty box gave Phoenix a chance to build a big lead.
The Coyotes failed and Detroit took advantage.
Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen scored midway through the second period to put the Red Wings ahead after they killed four penalties in the first, and Detroit beat Phoenix 4-2 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the first-round, Western Conference playoff series.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock is glad he didn’t find out what would’ve happened if the Coyotes converted on any of those chances.
“The game would’ve been over,” Babcock said. “They scored right away and then we got four penalties. … We weathered the storm.”
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett lamented the missed opportunities in the opening period, especially a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 91 seconds.
“That was the difference in the game,” Tippett said.
Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler added to the lead, and Jimmy Howard finished with 26 saves for the third-seeded Red Wings.
Kyle Turris scored 2:16 in to put Phoenix ahead in his playoff debut. Radim Vrbata had a goal midway through the third period to pull the sixth-seeded Coyotes within two goals, but they couldn’t get any closer.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who had 32 saves, stopped all nine shots he faced in the first period but gave up three goals on 17 shots in the second.
“Once they got the momentum in the second period, we couldn’t get it back,” Tippett said. “We hung around, but we’re going to have to be much better.”
Phoenix will get its next chance Saturday before the series shifts to the desert.
The Red Wings lost their post-season opener last year at Phoenix, but advanced with a Game 7 win there.
They got off to a better start this time in large part because of the penalty-killing—including a two-man disadvantage.
“It was huge,” Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom said.
The Red Wings seemed to get energized when Datsyuk tied it 1-1 at 7:38 of the second. He scored on a wraparound off an assist from Franzen, who then netted a go-ahead goal 4 1/2 minutes later on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line.
Franzen, who scored in just two games over the last two months of the regular season, produced as he usually does in the playoffs. He has at least a point in 13 games since being scoreless in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals. He begged reporters to stop talking about the streak that began with that loss to Pittsburgh.
“We’re still counting that? Stop doing that,” Franzen said. “The team turns it on, and I’m just following along.”
Rafalski made it 3-1 with 1:44 left in the second on the power play after keeping the puck in the Phoenix end along the left boards with his glove. He made a cross-ice pass to Valtteri Filppula, and then got the puck back for a one-timer.
Another subtle play put Detroit ahead 4-1 in the third when Jonathan Ericsson knocked Michal Rozsival off the puck near the red line. Drew Miller passed the loose puck off the boards up the ice to a hustling Hudler, who scored from the bottom of the left circle.
“Little things like that allow you to win,” Babcock said.
NOTES: Detroit is making its 20th straight playoff appearance, the longest active streak in North America’s four major leagues. … Phoenix’s franchise hasn’t advanced since 1987, when it was the Winnipeg Jets. … C Mike Modano was a healthy scratch for the Red Wings. … Phoenix D Derek Morris was scratched because of an undisclosed injury. … Red Wings F Henrik Zetterberg (left knee) missed the game. Babcock said he didn’t know if he would play in Game 2. … Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi and Phoenix’s Rostislav Klesla had a brief fight midway through the second period. “I think it’s a good thing, it gets the crowd pumped up,” Babcock said. “I think that’s the first fight the Red Wings have had in my six years here.”