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THN.com Playoff Blog: Red Wings, Sharks win in a late night of firewagon hockey

Five goals were scored in less than four minutes in Game 2 of Detroit-Phoenix, including a beauty by Justin Abdelkader. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Five goals were scored in less than four minutes in Game 2 of Detroit-Phoenix, including a beauty by Justin Abdelkader. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It must have been seductive for the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 2, going goal-for-goal with the Detroit Red Wings in a firewagon second period that saw five tallies go up on the board.

It was, of course, Phoenix's death on the evening though.

While the final score of 7-4 distorted how close the game was, there's no doubt the Red Wings deserved to win. And they did it by convincing the Coyotes to play to Detroit's strengths.

Phoenix does not have an offensive talent like Henrik Zetterberg (who, thanks to an empty-netter, garnered a hat trick on the night). 'Z' was magic, making lethal dashes into the Phoenix zone and shaking off defenders like a dog coming out of a lake. Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula all got in on the goal scoring by using their scintillating skill sets.

But flip back to the first period and it was a whole other game. The Coyotes used their size to control the pace against Detroit and were very effective in doing so. Martin Hanzal created the first goal with both his backside and wingspan, while Ed Jovanovski plowed Zetterberg over during a good scoring opportunity in front of the Coyotes net. The first frame ended with Phoenix up 1-0. But then things opened up and it was lights out for the Yotes.

Sure, Phoenix got pretty goals from Wojtek Wolski and Shane Doan – Red Wings-esque you might even say. But the Dogs can't try to hang with Detroit up-and-down; it's not how they got into the playoffs and it will only push them out of the post-season if they try it any more.

Random Thought: I think I'm done with the octopi. I know it's a great tradition in Detroit, but if you're a Wings fan tossing one in Phoenix (or last year in Columbus), you're pretty much asking for a beating, especially when you do it during the game. Do it at Joe Louis before the puck drops if you must, but overall it's become so old it's the equivalent of someone doing an Austin Powers impression at a party.

In the late, late game, I was impressed by Colorado's T.J. Galiardi. The youngster may not have put up points like Chris Stewart and Brandon Yip (two other playoff rookies, both of whom had multi-point nights), but he did everything in his power to help his team win. Galiardi drew penalties, killed penalties and antagonized Sharks vet Dan Boyle to top it off.

Working with vet Stephane Yelle on the penalty-kill, Galiardi blocked shots and generally sacrificed himself all night for the Avs. The fact San Jose won the game 6-5 in overtime cannot be blamed on Colorado's youth.

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The Sharks got a full team effort, with the energy line of Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer and Jamie McGinn setting the pace early with some fantastically punishing physical shifts, while Manny Malhotra worked faceoff magic and overall excellence.

San Jose's best players may not have been their best – goaltender Evgeni Nabokov still doesn't seem to thrive in big games – but the Joe Thornton-Patrick Marleau-Dany Heatley line did put points on the board, while Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski provided secondary scoring.

The Sharks had so many chances on the night that, much like Detroit, they will be hard to stop if Colorado allows them to play their style at will.

Random Thought:
Not cool showing Sharks GM Doug Wilson after every goal, TV producers. Obviously the man is under a lot of pressure; if the Avs score, let him swear in peace. When San Jose scores...OK, his leaping high-five with Mike Ricci was kinda funny. Maybe just show him sometimes.

THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

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Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays. 

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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