Ever since goalie Sean Burke returned from a high ankle sprain, the Phoenix Coyotes have been on a roll. The Red Wings were unable to get past Burke and the tight Phoenix defense, so they went down, 4-1.
The Coyotes’ first goal was just a bad break for Detroit. Phoenix shot the puck deep into the Red Wings’ zone, and Curtis Joseph came out of the net to play it. He meant for the puck to go up along the glass and out towards the blue line, but instead it hit Mathieu Dandenault in the corner and bounced out front, where Ramzi Abid was able to fire it into the empty net.
The Wings had plenty of chances to even the score, most notably Sergei Fedorov‘s shorthanded breakaway attempt with just over five minutes left in the first, but Burke kept them off the scoreboard.
It wasn’t until the second period was winding down that Detroit managed to score. Boyd Devereaux and Tomas Holmstrom were behind the net struggling for control of the puck with two Phoenix defenders. Devereaux wrestled it free of the boards and flipped it out front to the third member of the newly named “Spark Line,” Sean Avery. With a quick tap, Avery put the puck behind Burke to even the game at one.
Phoenix regained their lead quickly, however. Daymond Langkow was able to make a centering pass while Dandenault was trying to take him out of the play. Ladislav Nagy had come in unwatched and picked up the loose puck. Joseph saw him and dove across the net to make the save, but Nagy put the puck high into the net.
Defensive lapses on Detroit’s part led to two more Phoenix goals in the third period, even though the Wings outshot the Coyotes by a considerable margin. Nagy was again unwatched just outside his own zone while the Wings tried to score on Burke, and when the puck slipped free into the neutral zone, Nagy was away. Joseph blocked the breakaway shot, but Mike Johnson was trailing the play, and he was able to pick up the rebound and scoop it into the net.
Nagy also set up the final goal, with less than two minutes left to play. He deked around a defenseman at the blue line, then centered a pass to Daymond Langkow. Langkow faked a low shot, then put the puck high just as Joseph was dropping low.
The final count of shots on net was 41-27 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings will play their next four games on the road over the span of the next week, beginning with a Sunday evening game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Mathieu Dandenault left the game late in the third period after apparently blocking a shot with his knee. He had trouble getting up and limped off the ice. More information will be posted as it becomes available…. Jesse Wallin played his first game in nine after sitting out with an injured elbow…. Chris Chelios sat out this game with what the team described as a leg injury, although Chelios, who dislikes talking about his injuries, refused to give reporters any specifics. “It’s below the waist,” he said, and left it at that.