Game 1 of the series between the Red Wings and Coyotes is in the books, and Detroit holds a 1-0 advantage thanks to a 4-2 win on Wednesday night. The Red Wings went down early in the game, but they battled back with four straight goals for an eventual 4-2 victory.
The Red Wings did not exactly start off the 2011 NHL playoffs like they had hoped. The first period of this game included a Phoenix Coyotes goal only 2:16 in and a total of four penalties on the Red Wings. Detroit looked sloppy, although they managed to weather the storm and didn't give up a power-play goal. Jimmy Howard played particularly well on the four penalty kills, and for the Wings to only be trailing 1-0 after one period was a moral victory.
In the second period, all of the momentum shifted in the Red Wings' favor, starting with a couple of huge saves by Howard on another penalty kill. His saves helped the Red Wings kill the penalty, and shortly after it expired the Coyotes' Martin Hanzal went to the box. The Wings' puck control was outstanding, and although they didn't manage to score on the power play, the great shift resulted in a Pavel Datsyuk wraparound goal just as the teams returned to even strength. Five minutes later, Johan Franzen put one past Ilya Bryzgalov with an absolute snipe, and six minutes after that, Brian Rafalski scored from near the blue line on a power play to put the Red Wings up by a score of 3-1.
In the third period, Jiri Hudler got into the clear coming down the left side of the ice thanks to a tremendous pass from Drew Miller. Hudler, like Franzen, scored on a snipe, putting the puck on the top shelf to give the Wings a three-goal lead. Radim Vrbata cut the lead to two goals by slipping one past Howard at the 7:38 mark, but that was it for the scoring. Howard made a few more big saves, and really the best scoring chance in the final minutes was Dan Cleary missing an empty-netter at the end, keeping the score 4-2 when the final horn sounded.
Detroit will take a 1-0 series lead into Game 2, which will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. NBC will have the broadcast of this game as the Wings look to run the series lead to 2-0 before having to head west to Arizona next week.