DETROIT (AP) – Johan Franzen scored twice and Jimmy Howard had 34 saves to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 Monday night to get two desperately needed points in their push to make the playoffs.
The Red Wings moved within a point of eighth-place Columbus in the Western Conference. They’re hoping to finish the last three games of the regular season strong enough to extend the franchise’s postseason streak to 22 years.
Detroit had won only one of its previous six games, picking up a precious point in three shootout losses during the slump.
Damien Brunner scored late in the first period and Valtteri Filppula had a power-play goal late in the second to help Detroit match its season high in power-play scoring. Franzen had an empty-net goal with 1:22 left.
The Coyotes, five points behind with Blue Jackets, are on the brink of elimination after losing for the fourth time in five games with the potential to earn just six more points in the fading regular season.
Phoenix has been in the playoffs the previous three seasons, losing to Detroit in the first round in 2011 and 2010.
The Red Wings were skating hard and checking a lot – even Pavel Datsyuk had two big hits within the first 10 minutes of the game – in their quest to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Detroit scored on its first shot when Franzen redirected a puck past Mike Smith into the game on a power play.
The Red Wings didn’t let a shot get to Howard for more than 6 minutes. Meanwhile, they went 13-plus minutes without a shot of their own and needed Howard to make some key saves to keep the lead. He stopped Shane Doan’s shot on a power play midway through the first period and got his stick and pads on Radim Vrbata’s one-timer with 6 minutes left in the first period.
Soon after killing a penalty, the Red Wings scored another goal with an extra skater.
Brunner scored from the bottom of the right circle off Henrik Zetterberg’s pass from the top of the right circle. It was his first goal since April 1, his second in 22 games and by setting up Franzen’s goal, he had his first multipoint game since a two-goal, two-assist game on Feb. 24 against Vancouver.
Detroit’s Daniel Cleary was called for tripping twice in the first 4-plus minutes of the second period and the Coyotes failed to take advantage of either power play while being held to just two shots.
Doan had an open net midway through the second period only to have rookie defenseman Danny Dekeyser extend his stick far enough to deflect the shot over the net.
Filppula scored from a sharp angle at the bottom of the first circle at 16:09 of the second period to give Detroit a 3-0 lead. He scored for the first time in eight games and had his second goal in 17 games.
Howard faced a flurry of shots and finished with his second shutout in nine days and fourth of the season. He earned his 128th career victory, tying Tim Cheveldae for fifth in franchise history.
The Red Wings close the regular season at home against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings, Nashville and at Dallas, which is also vying for one of the final spots in the West.
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