Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Shaky goaltending puts Coyotes on brink

Categories: DET vs. PHO

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Detroit's Patrick Eaves, left, celebrates a goal scored by teammate Ruslan Salei as Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, right, looks on. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press) Detroit's Patrick Eaves, left, celebrates a goal scored by teammate Ruslan Salei as Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, right, looks on. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

The one decided edge the Phoenix Coyotes were supposed to hold over the Detroit Red Wings in their Western Conference quarter-final series was between the posts. But three games into the set, it has yet to emerge, and that's a key reason why the Coyotes find themselves on the brink of being submerged.

Detroit put two quick goals past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov before the contest was three minutes old, setting the stage for a 4-2 victory in Game 3 Monday at Arena, enabling Detroit to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.

While Bryzgalov was fighting the puck, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard was fighting off the Coyotes.

"I thought he made two exceptional saves in the first period," Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Howard blocked 28 shots, many of his saves of the spectacular variety, the best a point-blank glove stop on Phoenix defenceman David Schlemko late in the opening frame.

"He's played great for us," Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall said. "He's winning games for us."

Bryz by you

There appears to be two Bryzgalovs in the playoffs: the one who plays against Detroit, and the one who plays against everyone else.

In 11 career post-season appearances against Detroit, Bryzgalov is now 3-7 with a 3.23 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.

In playoff action against other teams, Bryzgalov is 9-5 in 15 games with a 1.61 GAA and a .939 save percentage. He's allowed four goals in each game of this series, and Detroit has won 56 straight when scoring four or more goals.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett described Bryzgalov's performance as, "just alright."

"There's been some times when we could get some more help," Tippett said. He confirmed he'll stick with his No. 1 goalie with the season on the line Wednesday.

"Bryz got us to this point, and we're going to rely on him to get us out of this," he said, adding: "We need our goaltender to have an all-world game."

Johan's The Man

Labouring, in obvious pain, and wearing a visor to help protect the 23 stitches in his face, Detroit forward Johan Franzen was not only able to answer the bell for Game 3, he scored a breakaway goal early in the third period to give Detroit a 4-1 lead.

The Wings weren't certain right up until game time whether Franzen would be able to suit up.

"We had Mo [Mike Modano] dressed [in the warmup] if he couldn't go," Babcock said. "He felt good enough and scored a huge goal for us."

Up against it

The Coyotes know the odds are against them. In Stanley Cup history, only three teams have rallied from a 3-0 series deficit.

"You pretty much have to do something the next game, or you don't have a game after that," Tippett said. "That's plenty of motivation right there."

The Wings didn't mind reminding Phoenix of the near-impossible task that lay ahead.

"Let's face it, today's a huge swing game," Babcock said. "Three-nothing is tough. Those guys are all mentally tough, but you're over there and you know it's 3-0 and that's a tough mountain to climb."

At the Helm

While Wings superstar centre Pavel Datsyuk was the star in the first two games, Detroit's foot soldiers came to the fore in the Game 3 win.

Three of the four goals came from the club's bottom two forward lines -- one from Drew Miller, one from Valtteri Filppula, and one from defenceman Ruslan Salei off a strong forecheck by Darren Helm.

"I actually thought Helm's line and Fil's line, which you'd consider to be our third and fourth [lines], were our best two lines," Babcock said. "They were all over the puck and really skating."

Even weakness

For the second straight game, the Coyotes failed to score while playing 5-on-5 hockey. Since Kyle Turris and Radim Vrbata scored even-strength goals in Game 1, Phoenix has scored five straight goals on the power play.

"We've got lots of try and lots of will in that room," Tippett said. "We've just got to turn that will into having some success on the scoreboard."