GLENDALE, Ariz. – Just when the Phoenix Coyotes seemed ready to write the greatest chapter yet in a storybook season, the Detroit Red Wings delivered a brutal lesson in playoff hockey.
The Red Wings swept into Arizona like a nasty desert storm on Tuesday night and buried the Coyotes 6-1 in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.
“It was more like a hurricane than a storm,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “Their top players came out and dictated the pace and we had no answers. They were relentless. They turned it up another level that we couldn’t get to.”
Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in a span of less than two minutes and Nicklas Lidstrom had two goals a day shy of his 40th birthday for the Red Wings.
Detroit, a Stanley Cup finalist the past two seasons, won in Arizona for the third time in the series to advance to a Western Conference second-round matchup with top-seeded San Jose.
“If you’re going to go deep into the playoffs you have to be able to play well on the road and we’ve been able to do that in this series,” Lidstrom said. “They’ve been a tough opponent. It took us seven games.”
The Red Wings will need more road success because the Sharks have home-ice advantage in the next round. Detroit flew directly to San Jose after the game.
Vernon Fiddler scored the Coyotes’ only goal on a second-period faceoff.
The names that had become so familiar to Detroit fans over the years were the instigators of the blowout.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?” coach Mike Babcock said. “The big guys were fantastic tonight.”
The fifth-seeded Red Wings bombarded goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from the start, outshooting Phoenix 50-33, including 39-21 in the first two periods. Bryzgalov held on through a scoreless opening period, but Detroit scored four goals in the second en route to its first Game 7 win on the road in 46 years.
“They played unbelievable,” Bryzgalov said. “You can say maybe we didn’t play good enough, maybe we had some mistakes. It’s tough to say, but they were unreal tonight.”
Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the only player still around who was on the team when Phoenix last made the playoffs in 2002, missed his fourth straight game with what Tippett said was a Grade 3 shoulder separation.
The Red Wings had blown a chance to clinch the series at home on Sunday, when the fourth-seeded Coyotes won 5-2. That set up the decisive game in Glendale, where a capacity white-clad crowd anticipated something much different than the Detroit drubbing that unfolded before them.
It was an anticlimactic ending for a team that opened its training camp without an owner or coach.
The Coyotes still are owned by the NHL, which bought the team out of bankruptcy and is trying to work out a sale to a group headed by Chicago sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf.
After beginning the season playing in a mostly empty arena, the Coyotes kept winning, setting a franchise record for victories and points under Tippett. The crowds kept growing, and by the time the season ended it was a loud, raucous environment.
None of that mattered to the veteran Red Wings, who outshot Phoenix 17-6 in the first period. Bryzgalov somehow deflected several drives from point-blank range, but it was only a matter of time for Detroit.
Datsyuk scored a power-play goal barely two minutes into the second period, then 1:41 later, he took a brilliant pass from Henrik Zetterberg for a breakaway goal and it was 2-0.
Fiddler’s unassisted goal, on a faceoff with Datsyuk, brought the crowd back to life for a short while. The puck went under Datsyuk and between the legs of Howard to make it 2-1 with 11:37 left in the second period. But Lidstrom’s slap shot from in front made it 3-1. In a play that exemplified the game, Phoenix failed to get a shot off in 1:12 of a two-man advantage, and Brad Stuart scored seconds after coming out of the penalty box to make it 4-1 just five seconds before the second period ended.
“I think that was kind of the dagger for them,” Stuart said.
Todd Bertuzzi and Lidstrom added third-period goals to complete the blowout. Phoenix was 0-of-5 on power plays to Detroit’s 3-of-6.
NOTES: Datsyuk has won the Selke Award for the league’s best defensive forward the past two years and is a finalist again this season. … Detroit improved to 2-5 in its last seven games when facing elimination. … The Red Wings were 3-0-1 against San Jose in the regular season. … Phoenix was 0-of-23 on power plays in Games 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7. … Detroit’s previous Game 7 win on the road was at Chicago in the Stanley Cup semifinals in 1964.