Quantcast 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Round One: Phoenix Coyotes vs Detroit Red Wings
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2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap

Western Conference Quarterfinals -Game 3 - Detroit 4, Phoenix 2 – Red Wings lead series, 3-0


The Detroit Red Wings have made a habit out of scoring quickly and early in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As a result, a franchise in the state of Arizona is quickly preparing for the possibility that it might relocate to the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Yes, as the NHL’s tenuous hold on the Phoenix Coyotes diminishes, it’s harder and harder to believe that this desert-dwelling organization is going to be able to stay in the Southwest beyond this season. The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the organization did not figure to help the former Winnipeg Jets in this series, and after three games, the conventional wisdom has been affirmed in a very pronounced fashion. Detroit’s penchant for clustered strikes has unfolded in each of the series’ first three games. The Wings have blinded Phoenix with full-fledged assaults, leaving no doubt about the superior team in this best-of-seven confrontation.

The theme to this game on Monday night at Jobing.com Arena was the parade of early-period goals scored by Detroit. None of the Red Wings’ four goals, spread out over three periods, were scored later than three minutes into any period. The Red Wings’ two early first-period goals were too much for the Coyotes as Detroit took a commanding lead in this Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup and put the Coyotes one win away from elimination.
Ruslan Salei, who used to cause trouble for the Wings as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, scored at the 1:57 mark of the first period and Drew Miller posted a goal 44 seconds later to give the Winged Wheel a two-goal lead just 2:41 into Game 3.

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Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the game on a goal scored by Valtteri Filppula at the 2:50 mark of the second period, continuing the Wings’ earlybird pattern, which only deepened the growing sense of frustration on the Phoenix bench.

The Coyotes could only get on the score sheet when they were on the man advantage. Their first goal came on the power play when David Schlemko scored at the 11:43 mark of the second period. That burst of offense sliced the Wings’ lead to 3-1 at the end of two periods, giving the home team at least a glimmer of hope that it could wage a comeback. A second goal early in the third would have reduced the Wings’ margin to one goal, and as was the case in Game 2, Detroit would have had to withstand a late Coyote rally. However, before that charge could get off the ground, the third seed squashed those hopes by scoring another early period goal in the third stanza. Johan Franzen scored 45 seconds in and the Red Wings took a 4-1 lead, driving the dagger into not just the game, but the series and, most likely, the history of the Coyote franchise in the West Phoenix suburb of Glendale. The Coyotes’ other goal came when they were a man up at the 13-minute mark of the third period on a goal scored by Ray Whitney, but by that time, the damage had been done.

Detroit Goalie Jimmy Howard had 28 saves for the Red Wings and was honored with the first star of the game. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Phoenix and if the Coyotes cannot find a way to win they will have lost in the first round of the playoffs to Detroit in back to back seasons.

Their days in Arizona will also likely be over, with a return trip to Winnipeg probably defining the next chapter in their existence.



By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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