GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes aren't quite sure how they found themselves buried in this 0-3 hole against the Detroit Red Wings. But one thing is perfectly clear: What they've been doing so far hasn't been working.
The Coyotes spent two days plotting, planning and psyching themselves up for a big win in Game 3 on Monday, attempting to turn the Western Conference quarterfinal series into a real horserace. But before they even broke from the starting gate, they fell down two goals just 2:41 into play -- and their best-laid plans were in shambles.
They weren't Pavel Datsyuk, between-the-legs, twist-and-shout goals. Detroit's Ruslan Salei and Drew Miller scored hard-working, a-little-help-from-shin-pads-and-seat-cushions goals. But they are exactly the kind of tallies the Coyotes have relied on all season.
Now, not only are they not getting those goals, they are ending up behind struggling goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and pushing them closer to postseason extinction.
"I'm wondering, 'How can this happen?'" said Bryzgalov, who has allowed 12 goals in three games and has looked less and less confident as the series has gone along. "We expected it to be different, not down 3-0. I just want to win one game. We have to start with that."
Bryzgalov will be back between the pipes when the Coyotes attempt to extend their season and make the Red Wings at least break a sweat in Game 4 on Wednesday night. But the forward lines -- who headed an offense that ranked fifth in the NHL in even-strength goals during the season, but have just two in three playoff games -- could be in for a major shakeup.
Fourth-line center Kyle Turris figures to up the depth chart. Turris has a goal and an assist in the series and has displayed the skill and offensive creativity needed against Detroit – and sorely lacking among his teammates to this point.
"(The Turris line) has been pretty good in every game, Kyle especially," Tippett said. "But you have to look at the circumstances of the games. We've been down in games, so Kyle's gotten more time because we need offense. If we'd been defending a lead, maybe (Vernon) Fiddler's line gets more."
Taylor Pyatt had a strong Game 3, but Fiddler and Lee Stempniak continue to struggle mightily – not just in the playoffs, but for weeks. Stempniak, who has no goals and 2 points in 10 playoff games against the Red Wings over the last two seasons, played just eight minutes in Game 3 and might have to earn his time now.
"I wish I would have scored a goal, but you have to focus on getting shots and getting to areas where the puck is going to be. It's what you have to do to break out of a slump," Stempniak said.
"We thrive on the forecheck, getting teams pinned in their end and getting second and third chances. It seems like there are a lot of shifts in this series where were we're getting in, we one shot and they clear it out. That's not how we score."
Things got worse in Game 3, when Fiddler's line was on the ice for both the Salei and Miller goals in a 44-second span – two more then that trio has generated in three games.
"The first goal goes in and they had just gone on the ice," Tippett said. "So you think, ‘Do you yank them off and mess with their confidence some more, or do you leave them out there and hope they are mad enough that they'll push back the other way?'
"So you leave them out and boom, (Detroit) gets another one. So you didn't just dent their confidence once, you've dented it twice. Now you're behind and you're chasing the game and that line doesn't play as much."
From there, the Coyotes played the Red Wings even. But even wasn't enough, and now they facing the prospect of being swept in the playoffs for the first time since moving to Arizona in 1996.
"You can't win the whole series in one game," Tippett said. "But the last time I looked you have to win four games to win a series. No one has won four yet."