Howard Earns First Playoff Shutout as Red Wings Tie Series with Coyotes

Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 29 shots for his first career playoff shutout Tuesday night, leading the Red Wings to a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup is now tied at two games apiece. Game Five will be in Glendale on Friday.

Henrik Zetterberg opened the game’s scoring with 4:27 left to play in the second period.

Zetterberg deflected a Niklas Kronwall shot from the blue line past Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov on the power play. After video review, it was determined that the deflection did not come off of a high stick.

After the Coyotes failed to tie the game on a long power play in the third, Pavel Datsyuk extended Detroit’s lead.

With 4:07 left in regulation, Datsyuk one-timed a pass from Johan Franzen at the bottom of the right faceoff circle over Bryzgalov’s glove hand.

Zetterberg added his second of the night just 25 seconds later, sneaking an acute-angle shot past Bryzgalov after Todd Bertuzzi beat out an icing call.

Bryzgalov finished the night with 32 saves on 35 Detroit shots.

The Red Wings were one-for-three on the power play while holding the Coyotes without a goal on five chances with the extra attacker, including 13 seconds of a two-man advantage.

The Coyotes were without captain Shane Doan, who was injured when he crashed into the boards on a play on in Sunday’s Game Three… Vernon Fiddler returned to the Phoenix lineup after missing Game Three.

Game Four Postgame Notes

Call me greedy but I still expect more from the Red Wings than we got tonight.

Jimmy Howard had his best game in awhile so he gets a pass. Howard stopped 29 shots en route to the shutout. As I said at the time, him staying with the puck and making a save in the second despite having lost his mask showed how on his game he was.

The rest of the team, however, still had some patches where they looked tentative. There were long stretches in the first and second that just felt slow.

The Coyotes definitely had some jump coming into the third period and the Wings were scrambling to hold onto their lead.

That said, special teams were fantastic. One-for-three on the power play and perfect on the PK, including 18 seconds of a Phoenix five-on-three. If the Wings had cleared the zone at even strength as well as they did during the third period PKs I probably wouldn’t be complaining right now.

An additional plus, I’m not entirely impressed with Ilya Bryzgalov. Maybe we should be worried that he hasn’t stolen a game yet, I don’t know.

Overall, still not a 60-minute effort but they definitely outplayed the Coyotes and you can never complain about a shutout.

Game Four Pregame Notes

Not much to say about tonight’s oddly-timed Game Four.

The game is set to start at 6:30 and the Red Wings have to be there on time. This is as close to a must-win as it gets without actually facing elimination.

Brian Rafalski has skipped the last two practices for Detroit but is expected to play tonight. Shane Doan is out for Phoenix, with Vernon Fiddler back in the lineup to replace him.

The Red Wings have to take advantage of the Doan-less Coyotes. Phoenix was a noticeably less-energetic team with Doan out of the lineup on Sunday but Detroit was so slow and slow apathetic that it didn’t matter.

And I know that one reader who emailed me on Sunday will say that kind of thinking doesn’t give credit to the Coyotes. That’s because it’s not intended to. In Game One the Coyotes clearly outplayed Detroit. In Game Three they did not, it was just that the Wings were that bad.

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