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Wings beat Coyotes 4-1 to take 3-2 series lead

by Jerry Brown
GLENDALE, Ariz. –-  Banished to the fourth line with his ice time slashed during this series, Tomas Holmstrom was reinstated with a skilled line for a few selected shifts -- and made the most of his chance.

Holmstrom outbattled Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin and bulled his way behind Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to find a loose puck and sweep home a backhander to snap a 1-1 tie with 8:51 in regulation on Friday night, sparking the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-1 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.


Pavel Datsyuk followed with a goal 70 seconds later and Henrik Zetterberg added his sixth of the series into an empty net for Detroit, who trailed 2-1 in the series but now lead 3-2 and can advance with a win Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. The Coyotes, who have scored just one goal since the third period of Game 3, need a win to force a Game 7 in Arizona on Tuesday.

Datsyuk won a draw in the offensive zone back to Nicklas Lidstrom at the left point. Bryzgalov stopped the shot through traffic, but Holmstrom got inside position on Aucoin and was able to backhand the puck into the net -- a classic Holmstrom goal.

"I didn't get a lot of chances, but it felt good to take of the chance I got," said Holmstrom who played less than 10 minutes, much of it on the power play. "(Aucoin) tried to take me away from the net and I jumped behind him. I think the puck went through my arm and got stuck there before it popped out."

Ed Jovanovski tied the game 1-1 with a second-period goal for Phoenix, but that was it for the Coyotes – who failed on five power plays and have now gone 19 straight chances without a goal after starting this series by scoring on their first three opportunities.

Jovanovski said the Holmstrom's tide-turning goal was "a tough way to lose" and the Red Wings, playing in their 19th consecutive postseason, knew how to pounce on the momentum.

"The puck just sat there," he said. "No one knew where it was. It even took their guy a couple of seconds to figure out it was at his feet. It was an even game heading to the third period and we came after them hard. Now we have to find and way to win one game and bring it back here. We can do it, but we have to be more disciplined."

Datsyuk made it a two-goal game 70 seconds later, taking a pass from the left boards by Johan Franzen and lifting a backhander over Bryzgalov's glove. Datsyuk was all alone after both Phoenix defenseman were caught chasing Franzen and watching the puck.

Detroit got another superb effort from rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard, who stopped 30 of 31 shots after shutting out the Coyotes on Tuesday. His best save came with just over 15 minutes left in regulation when he stoned Martin Hanzal on a breakaway, then sprawled out to stop the rebound try with his blocker.

"I didn't pick up my rebound, and I had a wide-open net. If I would have scored it would have been a different game," Hanzal said. "We needed to get a lead."

Howard, criticized for his poor play in a 3-1 loss to Phoenix in Game 3, has stopped 59 of 60 shots since.

"This is the time of year when you're just leaving every single thing on the ice. It's a blast and I sort of cherish it out there," Howard said. "The hardest game of the year is closing someone out and it's going to be a dogfight, just like every since game in this series has been."

The teams traded dominating periods, drawing penalties with their aggressive play.

The first period was all Detroit, with the Red Wings outshooting Phoenix 12-6, drawing three penalties and scoring on a goal credited to Drew Miller at 17:04. Miller's wraparound try trickled into the crease and was inadvertently pushed in by the back of Vernon Fiddler's skate.

The Coyotes answered with a strong second period, outshooting Detroit 14-4 and getting  their first goal in more than 90 minutes to tie the game. Seconds after a power play expired, Jovanovski planted himself in front of the net and swept home Aucoin's rebound.

The Coyotes kept up the pressure early in the third period but couldn't get the go-ahead goal, failing on another power-play attempt just before Holmstrom put the Red Wings ahead for good.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said captain Shane Doan, who missed his second straight game with an undisclosed upper body injury, is "getting closer" and could be ready for Game 6. But the Coyotes have learned all season that they have to make their own luck, and what could be the final game of the season should be no different.

"It's a matter of a few mistakes and capitalizing on chances," Fiddler said. "We have to work for everything we get. We've done it all year. No one has thrown us a bone all year, so now we have to get one."

Shift of the Night: Simple hockey is winning hockey, and no one knows it better than the Red Wings, who scored the winning goal by having three players do their jobs perfectly. It started with Pavel Datsyuk winning an offensive-zone draw to the right of Ilya Bryzgalov and getting the puck back to Nicklas Lidstrom at the left point. Rather than blindly blasting away, Lidstrom concentrated on getting the puck on net -- and he did. Bryzgalov made the stop, but couldn't find the puck. Tomas Holmstrom outbattled Adrian Aucoin for position in front and found the puck in time to slide a little backhander into the open net with 8:51 remaining to break a 1-1 tie. It was all Detroit for the rest of the night.

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