The Detroit Red Wings desperately needed two points Monday. They got them.
The Red Wings moved within a point of the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western Conference. Detroit, which had won only one of its past six contests, has qualified for the postseason 21 years in a row.
Damien Brunner scored late in the first period and Valtteri Filppula had a power-play goal late in the second to help the Wings match their season high in power-play scoring. Franzen had an empty-net goal with 1:22 left.
"This was a huge game for us, where we are in the standings and coming off a disappointing road trip," Howard said. "We have our work cut out for us. One down and now three to go."
The Coyotes, five points behind with Blue Jackets, are on the brink of elimination after losing for the fourth time in five games with the potential to earn just six more points in the fading regular season. Phoenix reached the conference finals last year before falling to the Los Angeles Kings.
"Just got to find a way to win the next one and give ourselves a chance," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said.
Detroit scored on its first shot when Franzen redirected a puck past Mike Smith 2:37 into the game on a power play.
The Red Wings didn't let a shot get to Howard for more than six minutes. Meanwhile, they went 13-plus minutes without a shot of their own and needed Howard to make some key saves to keep the lead. He stopped Doan's shot on a power play midway through the first period and got his stick and pads on Radim Vrbata's one-timer with six minutes left in the first period.
Soon after killing a penalty, the Red Wings scored another goal with an extra skater.
Brunner scored at 19:24 of the first from the bottom of the right circle off Henrik Zetterberg's pass from the top of the right circle. It was his first goal since April 1, his second in 22 games and by setting up Franzen's goal, he had his first multipoint game since a two-goal, two-assist game on Feb. 24 against Vancouver.
Detroit's Daniel Cleary was called for tripping twice in the first four-plus minutes of the second period and the Coyotes failed to take advantage of either power play while being held to just two shots.
"We didn't play well with the man advantage and that was the difference," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
Doan had an open net midway through the second period only to have rookie defenseman Danny Dekeyser extend his stick far enough to deflect the shot over the net.
Filppula scored from a sharp angle at the bottom of the first circle at 16:09 of the second period to give Detroit a 3-0 lead. He scored for the first time in eight games and had his second goal in 17 contests.
Howard faced a flurry of shots and finished with his second shutout in nine days and fourth of the season. He earned his 128th career victory, tying Tim Cheveldae for fifth in franchise history.
"We can enjoy this for a minute," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "But all it does is give us another opportunity. They understand what's going on more than anybody. They make their living here and they got a lot of pride in wearing the sweater."
Material from wire services was used in this report.
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