-- If you ask Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard
, the Phoenix Coyotes
were "lucky" to get a few deflected goals and escape Hockeytown with a win Sunday -- bringing this wild Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Red Wings back to the desert for a Game 7 Tuesday night.
Howard's comment brought smiles and eye-rolls from the Phoenix dressing room Monday, but no one was surprised. It was yet another helping of disrespect for a team that has come to expect nothing less.
"I think everybody thinks they are better than us," Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris
said. "We've been hearing it all year. Everybody's counted us out. But the proof is in the pudding. We go out there and we play hard and we believe in ourselves.
"Everybody else can say whatever they want. Whether they're lucky goals or not, we're doing a good job of getting there to create these goals and we're getting rewarded for all our hard work."
Would one more win over the Red Wings change perceptions any?
"I doubt it," Morris said. "We'd go into the next round and whoever it is, they'll be better than us."
But that one win has never been easy for this franchise. While the Red Wing have won four Stanley Cups since 1997, this franchise hasn't won a playoff series win since 1987 -- when Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and U2 "Still Haven't Found What I'm Lookin' For" topped the music charts.
The Coyotes missed a golden opportunity themselves in Game 5, losing 4-1 on home ice for the second time in three games to Detroit. That game turned when a shot to the net got caught up under Tomas Holmstrom
's arm and then dropped at his feet for an easy sweep-in.
"We work for our breaks … and they've had a couple, too," defenseman Ed Jovanovski
said. "Holmstrom's was pretty lucky, too."
In this elimination game, the Red Wings not only have the experience, they have a chip on their shoulder after losing 5-2 in Game 6 and leaving the ice to boos from what was left of a crowd that had come to celebrate. But Phoenix coach Dave Tippett
has no doubt his team will be ready to play.
"I have the utmost confidence in our locker room," he said. "I love the spirit of our guys, and how loose they were going into (Game 6) with their backs against the wall. Our ability to overcome situations and not get rattled by anything is one of our strengths."
Phoenix also might have captain Shane Doan
available for the first time in four games after he tested his upper-body injury in a full practice Monday.
"I've been involved in a few Game 7s. They're emotional games," said Jovanovski, who will be playing in a series-decider for the fifth time -- the others coming with Florida and Vancouver. "Playing at home, you have to prepare to jump on (Detroit) early, feed off the crowd and try to set the tone of the game. The place is going to be wild and electric. You just have to go out, have fun and enjoy it."
The Coyotes, who scored three power-play goals in a game only twice during the regular season, got three for the second time in this series on Sunday after failing on the previous 19 chances. Lauri Korpikoski
added a shorthanded goal -- only the second allowed by Detroit all year. Three of the five goals came on deflections, leading to Howard's analysis that the hockey gods were with the Coyotes.
"If he says we are (lucky), we are," Doan said. "Hopefully we can be lucky again."