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Bryzgalov, Coyotes force a seventh game

by Brian Compton
DETROIT -- This phenomenal Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings is going the distance.
Five different players scored and Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves as the Coyotes forced a seventh game with an impressive 5-2 victory in Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Phoenix, which won 50 games during the regular season and finished fourth in the West with 107 points, has not reached the second round of the playoffs since the Winnipeg Jets accomplished the feat in 1987. The Coyotes can change that when they face the Wings in Game 7 at Arena on Tuesday night. The Red Wings have not won a Game 7 on the road since 1964.
"Our building will be a crazy atmosphere," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Anytime you can compete in a Game 7, that's like the pinnacle right there. I'm sure our team will be charged up. Home-ice advantage is only good if it comes down to a Game 7. We've worked awful hard to get home ice."
Brad Stuart and Darren Helm scored for Detroit, which was 20-4 on home ice the past two postseasons. The Wings have won only once in three home games this series. Detroit was given three power plays in the first 4:42 of the contest, but failed to convert and didn't receive another man advantage all day. Phoenix, meanwhile, went 3-for-5.
"That's probably the game right there," Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said of his team's inability to score on the power play early. "If we would have scored one or two, the outcome would be a little different. Their power play was better than ours tonight, their PK was better than ours. I think that's the game."
Jimmy Howard, who is participating in his first NHL postseason, stopped 24 of 29 shots in the loss -- one he could hardly be blamed for.
"They scored on the power play three times," Detroit coach Mike Babcock responded when asked to assess Howard's performance. "I don't think you can blame him for anything that happened here today. We were all in it together."
Lauri Korpikoski silenced the crowd when he scored shorthanded just 4:10 into the game. With Ed Jovanovski in the box, Korpikoski seized control of the puck in the neutral zone and fired a low wrister from the top of the left circle that beat Howard to the far side. It was Korpikoski's first goal of the playoffs.
Despite being outshot 14-6, Phoenix took the one-goal lead into the first intermission due to some stellar play by Bryzgalov, who entered Sunday's action with a 3.21 goals-against average in the series.
"I think they tried to set the tone early," Bryzgalov said. "Our penalty kill was outstanding. In the second period, we just took control of the game."
The teams exchanged goals just 24 seconds apart early in the second period. Mathieu Schneider gave Phoenix a 2-0 lead when his rocket from the point beat a screened Howard for a power-play tally at 2:27, but the Wings quickly responded as Stuart collected a loose puck in the slot and ripped it past Bryzgalov to make it 2-1. It was his first goal of the playoffs.
"No one gave us any chance here today," Schneider said. "I think we really simplified things. I thought we did a good job bouncing back in the second. We've been playing a lot of hockey here."
The Coyotes once again doubled their lead when Radim Vrbata scored on the power play 10:09 into the second. After Kris Draper was whistled for interference, Vrbata took a brilliant cross-ice feed from Robert Lang and fired it past Howard to make it 3-1.
"We needed our power play to give us something," Tippett said. "We got a good effort out of them. I was surprised that we needed our penalty kill so much so early, but Bryz just jumped in the game and was excellent."
Wojtek Wolski added to the onslaught when he scored his fourth goal of the playoffs at 14:01 of the second. With the teams at even strength, Wolski parked himself in front of the net and redirected Petr Prucha's shot from the left circle past Howard as Phoenix grabbed a 4-1 lead. The Coyotes outshot the Wings 15-12 in the second period.
Taylor Pyatt scored the Coyotes' third power-play goal of the day at 5:25 of the third, when he redirected Keith Yandle's blast past Howard for his first point of the series.
"I thought he was excellent," Tippett said of Pyatt, who spent most of the day parked in front of Howard. "We've been tinkering around with different people on (the power play). I thought he did a great job in front of the net."
Helm made it a 5-2 game when he poked one past Bryzgalov and just over the goal line at 16:29 -- it was ruled a good goal after video review. It was Helm's first goal of the playoffs.
But it was too little, too late for the Red Wings, who must now head to Phoenix and play with their season on the line Tuesday night.
"The only disappointment I have here today is that we didn't win," Babcock said. "I liked our preparation, I liked our attitude, I liked the way we went about our business. We've got another opportunity, and that, to me, is what it's all about." 
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Shift of the Game: With a chance to restore a two-goal lead, the five-man unit of Radim Vrbata, Robert Lang, Taylor Pyatt, Keith Yandle and Adrian Aucoin did a tremendous job of keeping the puck in the Red Wings' end of the ice -- despite losing the faceoff -- and converted when Vrbata took a pass from Lang and ripped it past Jimmy Howard to give Phoenix a 3-1 lead with 9:51 left in the second period.

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