RED WINGS at COYOTES
(Phoenix leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
Playoff hockey returned to the desert in grand fashion on Wednesday as the upstart Coyotes scored three power-play goals and got the early edge over the two-time defending Western Conference champions. Phoenix looks to protect home-ice advantage and put Detroit further behind the eight ball in Game 2 at Jobing.com Arena.
Despite entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the No. 5 seed, Detroit is as feared as any team in the Western Conference bracket because of its pedigree and the way the Red Wings played following the Olympic break. They took a pair of one-goal leads Wednesday as Tomas Holmstrom
and Nicklas Lidstrom
lit the lamp, but were ultimately undone by a penalty-killing unit that had allowed just six goals in 59 previous shorthanded situations.
"Our PK kind of let us down tonight," defenseman Brad Stuart
said. "(The Coyotes) won some faceoffs and really put the puck on net. They had some good results, and we have to find a way to counteract them."
Winning in much the same way it did during the regular season, Phoenix got a pair of goals from defensemen and another from trade-deadline acquisition Wojtek Wolski to go with solid goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov (38 saves) in its first playoff game since 2002. Keith Yandle
scored in his playoff debut, while the winner came from veteran Derek Morris
, in his second tour of duty with the club.
"I'm not a goal scorer, let's be honest," Morris said. "But when the opportunity arises, I can still wind it up."
Lidstrom not only scored his 47th career playoff goal, he tied Mark Messier for second all-time with 236 games played in the postseason. That's still 30 behind former teammate Chris Chelios, who tops the list. … Morris also contributed two assists and Yandle one to give the Coyotes five points from their blueliners in the opener. Matthew Lombardi added a pair of helpers.
Phoenix forward Robert Lang, sidelined since March 4 due to a lower-body injury, will be a game-time decision, coach Dave Tippett said. Lang had a stint in Detroit from 2004-07.
Sometimes it's not all about the goals and assists -- sure, they stand front and center when looking at the scoresheet, but there are a lot of little things that go into winning games as well. Coyotes captain Shane Doan
didn't register a point in the opener, but he screened Jimmy Howard
on Yandle's goal and delivered a team-high nine hits as Phoenix more than doubled up Detroit, 43-20, in that category.
"We recognize if we give them a lot of room and space to make plays, it's going to be difficult," Doan told the Arizona Republic. "But if we can get on them as quickly as we can, we've got to take away their time and space."
In search of a more physical presence, the Red Wings will play Justin Abdelkader
in place of Jason Williams on Friday. According to the Detroit Free Press, the rookie forward, who scored goals in the first two games of last season's Stanley Cup Final, skated at practice Thursday with Kris Draper and Drew Miller
on his wings. He hasn't played a game with the big club this season since Jan. 27.
"He played well for us earlier in the year," coach Mike Babcock told the newspaper. "We sent him down because of (salary) cap issues. We feel that our bottom six needs to be more physical than we were (in Game 1), and he gives us a chance to do that. I think he's still one of the top finished-checks guys on our team in playing half the games."