Playoff Game of the Night (Pt. I)

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 1: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings @ Joe Louis Arena
2-4 Final; Detroit leads the series 1-0

The first Western Conference game to be played on the opening day of playoffs. Are you ready for this?
The young, underdog Phoenix Coyotes drop the puck against the seasoned Detroit Red Wings to start the playoffs off. Who will take game one and bring the momentum into game two?

Right off of the puck-drop, Phoenix was quick to strike. Just 2:16 into the playoffs, Coyotes' Kyle Turris let loose a snapper of a shot to beat Jimmy Howard for the first goal and his first ever NHL playoffs goal. That wasn't the worse for Detroit in the first period.

In the first 20 minutes of game one, the Red Wings spent nearly 8 minutes on the penalty kill (only saved for 82 seconds when David Schlemko took a slashing penalty). Now, the higher-seeded team may have had the better rankings in special teams, but Detroit cannot and should not depend on their special teams so much during the playoffs.

Despite being down going into the first intermission, they weren't going to remain down for long. Starting the cycle before the goal himself, Pavel Datsyuk fed Johan Franzen the puck at the net, but he failed to bury it into the net. Not giving up on the play, Pavel Datsyuk picked up the loose puck, and with a wrap-around from behind the net, Datsyuk nets in the goal they needed to get level at one at 7:38 against Ilya Bryzgalov. Couple of minutes later, Todd Bertuzzi and Rostislav Klesla have a battle of words before dropping the gloves for a quick "fight" that resulted in both on the floor. These two players spent more time talking about the fight than actually fighting. While in the box serving his penalty, the crowd started to chant "TODD BER-TU-ZZI!" It was quite energizing. If the fight didn't get the teams energized, the chanting certainly did.

And then the go-ahead goal. Johan Franzen released his shot and put his team up 2-1 12:02 into the middle period. Guess what continued to energize the home team? "JO-HAN FRAN-ZEN!"

The party wouldn't stop there. Detroit kept peppering on the shots and at 18:16, another went through Bryzgalov. Placed on the powerplay after Ed Jovanovski took a hooking penalty, the Red Wings used their special time to the optimum! The Detroit unit created good puck motion with great passing and utilising all areas of the offensive zone before Brian Rafalski released a large shot from the high point at the blue-line that made the score 3-1 in favour of the home team.

Despite having a lead heading into the third period, two-up is not a comfortable goal deficit to relax on - especially in the playoffs. So at 3:15 of the third, Jiri Hudler let out a quick shot along the left-wing to beat Bryzgalov far, glove-side. No matter how big the goal-difference is, you are not out until you have finished playing the game and one team has won the best-of-7-game series. Radim Vrbata became one of the two players to beat Jimmy Howard and his solid goaltending at 7:38 of the third.

3 stars:
(1) Johan Franzen
(2) Jimmy Howard
(3) Pavel Datsyuk

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