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Coyotes? goal to discover some PP success

by Jerry Brown
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix power play is struggling. No news flash there.

The Coyotes managed to win 50 games this season despite a power play that ranked 28th in the NHL and was one or two mini-hot streaks away from finishing dead last. So when the Coyotes lit the lamp on their first three man-advantage chances against Detroit in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, it didn't just raise eyebrows -- it set off signal flares.

Alas, that has been the last of the special teams fireworks for Phoenix. Over the last three-plus games, while the Red Wings have pushed across four goals from their power play, the Coyotes have gone 0-for-14 including 0-for-6 in the 3-0 loss in Tuesday's Game 4.

With Shane Doan (upper body) out of the lineup and at best questionable for Game 5 Friday, the Coyotes will try some new twists -- employing three defensemen for better puck movement and more shots from the point and planting big Ed Jovanovski in from of the crease where Doan normally provides a screen for Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

But on the whole, Phoenix is more concerned about playing a better overall game and challenging Detroit for 60 minutes -- not just when a Red Wing is banished to the penalty box.

"They believe (Howard) had a stellar game," said Phoenix winger Wojtek Wolski, who failed to score in Game 4 for the first time in the series. "But in one period, we missed the net 10 times with shots. If we get even half of those shots on net, there are rebounds and all kinds of possibilities. We didn't get enough shots on him, and the ones we got on him were too easy. We have to make it a little harder for him.

"If you look at (Detroit's) power play … even with all the skill they have, they are not pretty goals. They're throwing the puck at the net and either getting a deflection or a rebound. That's how you're going to score in these games, because it's so tight. I think we'll do a better job of getting in there."

Jovanovski, who has spent much of the series trying to budge Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi from in front of the Phoenix net, said giving the Wings some of their own medicine makes sense. And not just on the power play.

"It's tough scoring from behind the blue line on any NHL goalie, and we had a lot of shots from way out," he said. "We have to get the pucks to the net. We did that in the first game and kind of shied away from it since then. We have to get to the dirty areas, change the angles and go side to side. We need more of the shots that are tough to stop, even if they don't go in.

"(Howard) made saves when he needed to, but we didn't make him work as much as we have in previous games.

Radim Vrbata, who teamed with linemates Peter Prucha and Martin Hanzal to dominate Game 3 in a 4-2 Phoenix win, said his line in particular didn't put the same pressure on the Red Wing net.

"When we were on the power play, we weren't shooting enough … too much passing and looking for the perfect play," he said. "And 5-on-5, we didn't create much. I don't think there were too many real chances. They were better and we weren't as aggressive.

Even so, the Coyotes are even after four games and are back home, where they won 29 times during the regular season, for a crucial Game 5 in front of their fans.

"We worked hard to get home ice and if we win the home games we go to the next round," goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said. "We feel good. We're here at Game 5 and have a good chance. We didn't play our best game last time and we have to adjust, but we have been good all season and fixing problems and coming back to play much better."

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