Mike Smith stopped 30 shots, Martin Hanzal scored twice and the Phoenix Coyotes ended a seven-game losing streak to Detroit with a 3-1 win over the Red Wings on Monday night.
Boyd Gordon had a short-handed goal in the first period and Hanzal scored on a power play in the second for Phoenix. Detroit picked up the pressure in the third, but Smith made some difficult saves and Hanzal scored his eighth of the season into an empty net in the closing seconds to give the Coyotes consecutive wins over San Jose and Detroit, two of the Western Conference’s best teams.
Johan Franzen scored his 20th goal for the Red Wings, who lost for the third time in 12 games.
Detroit plays its next six games at home, where it has won 17 straight.
This was a night of milestones in a game between teams that met in the playoffs the two previous seasons.
Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney played his 1,200th NHL game, Red Wings right wing Danny Cleary notched No. 800 despite a sore left knee and defenseman Adrian Aucoin played his 200th with the Coyotes.
The round numbers aside, the Coyotes needed to find a way to get some points.
Phoenix entered 11th in the Western Conference, but just four points out of the last playoff spot. At the end of a season-long six-game homestand, the Coyotes were hoping to gain a little momentum against a team they’ve struggled with.
Detroit swept Phoenix out of the playoffs last season and had won the three previous meetings this season, including a shootout the last time in the desert on Jan. 19. Of course, not many teams have been able to beat the Red Wings this season; they entered with 72 points, one ahead of the New York Rangers for best in the NHL.
The Coyotes played like a team fighting for points early on, getting some good stops from Smith and some good chances on offense.
Gordon scored a short-handed goal midway through the first period, using what seemed like a half-dozen dekes on a breakaway to beat goalie Joey MacDonald to the glove side.
Phoenix kept up the pressure in the second, setting up consecutive power plays midway through. The Coyotes scored quickly in the second against the worn-down Red Wings when Whitney sent a shot through traffic that Hanzal redirected through his legs and MacDonald’s.
Detroit got a chance at consecutive power plays – well, a few seconds apart – later in the period when Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla swatted a puck over the glass from his own end. Franzen turned it into a goal, jamming in a shot from the edge of the crease after a pass from Henrik Zetterberg behind the goal.
The Red Wings tried to swarm the Coyotes in the third period, spending large chunks of time in Phoenix’s end. Smith came up with some big saves and got a break midway through when he was sprawled on the ice and Pavel Datsyuk missed the net.
Smith also withstood a power play late and came up with a few more stops before Hanzal sealed the victory.
Notes: Red Wings D Brad Stuart didn’t play because of the flu. … Phoenix plays 28 of its final 29 games against the Western Conference. … Rock star Alice Cooper, a Valley resident, attended the game.