Danny Cleary scored from a tough angle with just over 6 minutes left, and the Detroit Red Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes out of the playoffs and possibly out of the desert with a 6-3 victory Wednesday night.
The whiteout from Game 3 was more of a dusting, though Jobing.com was just as juiced.
The sellout crowd got to see plenty of action, from a goal-trading first two periods to the deflating score from Cleary from behind the right post that somehow squeezed past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with 6:19 left.
Todd Bertuzzi sealed up the sweep less than 2 minutes later, knocking in a shot off the skate of Coyotes’ defenseman David Schlemko in what might have been the Coyotes’ final game in the desert.
Patrick Eaves scored his second goal on an empty net, Tomas Holmstrom and Niklas Kronwall also scored, and Detroit earned some time to relax and recuperate before the next round with a dominating series over a team that took the Red Wings to seven games last season.
Playing in front of potential owner Michael Hulsizer, who talked with fans outside before the game and sat in the stands, the Coyotes kept up with Detroit’s multitude of scoring lines on goals from Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal.
Phoenix had no answer for the swarming Red Wings in the third period, though, swept out of the playoffs for the first time since 1987, nine years before the franchise moved from Winnipeg. The Coyotes saluted the crowd at center ice after the game as most of the fans stuck around, but now head into the offseason not knowing if they’ll ever play in the desert again.
Pavel Datsyuk was the cog for Detroit in the first two games, accounting for two goals and five assists on Detroit’s eight scores. The Red Wings had four players score in Game 3 in the desert, all coming within the first 3 minutes of each period.
Detroit got a little of both in Game 4: Holmstrom scored his second of the series 3:37 into the game on a how’d-he-see-him, no-look pass from Datsyuk.
This time, the Coyotes responded quickly instead of waiting until the game was out of hand.
Pyatt tied it less than 2 minutes after Holmstrom’s goal when his pass across the crease caromed off the skate of Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson past goalie Jimmy Howard, who had no chance.
It went back and forth from there.
Doan put the Coyotes up in the series for the first time since early in Game 1 midway through the first, wristing a shot from the right circle that nicked Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom’s skate and squeezed through Howard’s pads over the line, almost in slow motion.
Detroit finished off the wild first period on a mis-hit one-timer by Eaves that still went in after two Coyotes got knocked to the ice behind the goal.
Phoenix got the early period goal in the second, scoring on a power play 1:09 in, when Radim Vrbata hit Hanzal for an easy goal with Howard on the other side of the crease.
Again, the Red Wings answered, with Kronwall punching in a rebound on a power play.
Detroit put plenty of pressure on Phoenix midway through the third period and took advantage of the tired Coyotes after a particularly long stretch with Cleary’s first goal of the series shortly after. Bertuzzi got his first of the series by squeezing the puck from behind the net and off Schlemko to seal the sweep.
NOTES: Hanzal’s goal was his first in 11 career playoff games. … Coyotes D Derek Morris missed the entire series with a lower-body injury. … Detroit had 13 players score goals in the series.