The Red Wings-Coyotes first round playoff matchup might seem like a mismatch to some.
Detroit has a bevy of stars, a deep and talented lineup, the second-most potent offense in the NHL and a wealth of playoff experience.
But the Wings are sincere when they say they’re not taking the Coyotes lightly. The teams met in the first round last year and Phoenix gave Detroit all it could handle, winning twice at Joe Louis Arena before the Wings wrapped up the series with a 6-1 victory in Game 7 in Glendale.
“Don’t let anybody fool you, they’re a solid club,” Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “They played us tough all year and they played us tough last year in the playoffs. It’s going to be a battle again this year. I’m sure they’re going to want revenge.”
Sixth-seeded Phoenix finished with 99 points, five fewer than the Red Wings. Each club won twice in the season series. Detroit won two overtime games. Phoenix won once in regulation, once in a shootout.
The Wings have won the previous three playoff matchups between the franchises, all in the first round (in six games in 1996 against the Winnipeg Jets and in six games in 1998 vs. Phoenix, in addition to last year).
RED WINGS 4, BLACKHAWKS 3: Despite having the No. 3 playoff seed in the West sewn up, the Wings needed a strong performance to restore some confidence following recent lackluster efforts and to head into the playoffs with some momentum. The Wings played with urgency. They forechecked hard, were more physical than Chicago and responded quickly after every Blackhawks goal. They snapped a four-game losing streak to Chicago. Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Drew Miller and Dan Cleary scored for Detroit and Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for his 37th win.
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