DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings enjoyed home-ice advantage in at least the first round during the previous 17 postseasons.
After starting on the road in Phoenix and losing Game 1, Detroit beat the Coyotes 7-4 Friday night to even series and get home ice back.
The fifth-seeded Red Wings will host Phoenix in Game 3 on Sunday.
“It sure helps winning the game last night instead of coming back being down 2-0,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said Saturday. “We’re happy with the split.”
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett didn’t want his team to stay down for long.
“We have to make sure we jump back in and get ready for Game 3,” Tippett said.
Henrik Zetterberg scored three times for the Red Wings in Game 2, and Justin Abdelkader validated one of coach Mike Babcock’s moves. Babcock put Abdelkader in the lineup for the first time since January and he scored the first of four goals in the third period to break a 3-3 tie.
“To chip in as a fourth-line centre, it was positive,” Babcock said.
Babcock, though, is always quick to point out that his best players have to be at the top of their game this time of year.
“You can have all the skill in the world, it doesn’t make any difference at playoff time if you don’t compete if you don’t win battles and you’re not willing to run people over,” he said. “When we got involved in the game, the game went better for us.”
Phoenix led three times before Detroit tied the game midway through the second, a frenetic period in which the teams combined for five goals in less than four minutes.
Shane Doan said the Coyotes gave the game away when it became a shootout.
“We know when we play our game we’re capable of beating anybody, but we didn’t play our game,” Doan said. “I’m sure it was fun to watch, but it wasn’t our type of game.”
The Red Wings have won 50 straight playoff games when they score at least four goals.
“If we give up six, we’re going to be chasing a lot of the series,” Tippett said.
Doan said Game 3 is big for Phoenix, which won Jan. 26 at Detroit, knowing it doesn’t want to trail 2-1 with two more games in Joe Louis Arena.
“We beat them there before, and we’ll have to do it again,” Doan said.
The two-time defending Western Conference champions respected Phoenix before the series and do even more after two games.
“We’re in a best-of-five against a real good team that’s excited about being in the playoffs,” Babcock said. “Lets get prepared for the next one and get ready to dig in right from the start.”