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Breakdown: Game 2 vs. Phoenix

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

By Bill Roose and Michael Caples |

Slow starts hindered the Red Wings all season. And Wednesday's opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals was no different.

However, the Wings had a remedy for their early-game woes in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. They used three first-period goals and Pavel Datsyuk's magical performance to gain a 2-0 series lead over the Coyotes with a commanding 4-3 victory. The series now heads to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4 next week.

The first period was a rough ride in the Motor City with plenty of hitting. Disappointed with his team's lack of physical presense in Game 1, Coyotes captain Shane Doan tried setting the physical tone early. Fortunately for the JLA crowd, Datsyuk set the scoring tone, helping the Wings beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov three times in the opening period.

Datsyuk's incredible first period featured a goal, two assists and one unbelieveable move as he broke in on Bryzgalov in the final minute. With all-star defenseman Keith Yandle in pursuit, Datsyuk slipped the puck behind his right leg, and in one motion pulled it between both legs and whistled a trick shot on goal. The shot was initially stopped by Bryzgalov, who left a rebound out in front where Darren Helm scooped up the puck and blasted it in to the net for a 3-0 lead.

The Wings received an early scare when one of their top playoff performers needed 21 stitches to close a gash to the forehead. Johan Franzen, who entered Saturday's game having scored 71 points in 76 career postseason games, was sent into the boards, face-first, by Doan and center Eric Belanger. Franzen returned to the game to a standing ovation from the JLA crowd with 10:23 left in the second period.

Detroit increased its lead to 4-0 when Tomas Holmstrom tipped a point shot from Valtteri Filppula into the top of the net just 71-seconds after the start of the second period. The Coyotes finally solved Wings goalie Jimmy Howard when Radim Vrbata scored his second goal of the series at 7:02.

The Coyotes made things interesting late with a pair of third-period power-play goals by Doan, but the Wings' defense exstinguished all other late threats.

Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal is set for Monday at Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Game time is 10:30 p.m. EDT.

Pavel Datsyuk started off his impressive day by getting the Wings on the scoreboard first. Taking a pass from Nicklas Lidstrom, Datsyuk skated to the slot, and pulled a toe-drag with the puck to get free for a shot. He then snapped a low shot, using two players in front of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as a screen to get his second goal of the playoffs. It was the first of three goals for the Wings in the first period.

9 Saturday's four-point performance was the ninth time in his career that Pavel Datsyuk had collected four or more points in a game. He had a goal and three assists in Game 2.
7 The Coyotes wanted a physical game and that's what they got from the Red Wings in Game 2. The Wings held a 41-38 edge in hits, including seven by Niklas Kronwall.
16 Besides his four-points, Datsyuk was a beast in the face-off circle, winning 16 of 20 draws against the Coyotes. In all, the Wings dominated draws, winning 64 percent of the time.

Pavel Datsyuk
G A P +/- Shots
1 3 4 +2 4

Shane Doan
G A P +/- Shots
2 1 3 -2 4

Tomas Holmstrom
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 2

Ilya Bryzgalov
31 27 4 58:58 .871

Jimmy Howard
33 30 3 60:00 .909

Keith Yandle - D

26:42 - T0I, -2 rating

Brian Rafalski - D

22:17 - T0I, E rating

While he didn’t score, the third goal still belonged to Datsyuk. In the final minute of the first period, he raced down the ice, and while coming in from a bad angle, Datsyuk put the puck and his stick through his legs, and fired a trick shot towards Bryzgalov. The Coyotes’ netminder made the initial save, but Darren Helm raced down and buried the rebound, breaking the TV net camera in the process.

Needless to say, Datsyuk was the hero of Game 2. The Wings were able to build a 4-0 lead in the first 21:11, and the Wings’ crafty forward had a goal and three assists in the timeframe. Datsyuk led all Detroit forwards in ice-time, skating for 21:42. In that time frame, he had four points, four shots, two hits, three takeaways, three blocked shots, and 16 face-off wins (with only four losses).

During the first period, Johan Franzen took a vicious hit from Phoenix captain Shane Doan along the end boards. Franzen was helped off the ice by his teammates with a towel hiding a cut on his face. However, that wasn’t enough to keep ‘The Mule’ out of the game. Twenty-one stitches later, he returned during the second period and finished the game for the Wings. Franzen skated for 10:22 in the afternoon, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Dominating the scoresheet wasn’t enough for Datsyuk, as the 5-foot-11 forward started throwing his body around, too. In the closing seconds of the second, he sent Andrew Ebbett flying into the boards near the face-off circle in the Detroit end. The fans cheered wildly for the Wings’ Russian center as the teams headed to the dressing room.

The Coyotes wanted to play with more physicality in Game 2, but the Wings weren’t afraid of answering back. Detroit recorded 41 hits to Phoenix’s 38, winning one of the statistics most important in a playoff hockey game. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall led the Wings with seven hits, and Kris Draper was second with four.

"I probably should have stayed out. They played a lot better without me."

- Johan Franzen joking with reporters after he needed 21 stitches following a first-period collision with the Coyotes' Shane Doan. Franzen returned in the second period.

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