Coyotes Vs. Red Wings Game 4: Adios, Arizona?

Now the wait begins to see what the fate of the Coyotes will be in the wake of their 6-3 loss in Game 4 of the NHL playoffs.

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Red Wings Fly To Series Sweep With 6-3 Win Over Coyotes, Now What?

First there was the head-shaking, shoulder-shrugging processing of a third period that got away from the Phoenix Coyotes. Then came the questions about the team's off-ice, limbo-ish situation regarding whether the NHL remains in Arizona or the sale to a would-be owner doesn't go through and the team is forced to move to Winnipeg. 

That part is up in the air for everyone, even though coach Dave Tippett all but labeled it a distraction. What is certain is that the Detroit Red Wings were far and away the better team on the ice for four games, and they won all of them. 

Wednesday's Game 4 was tied at 3 after two periods, and with one bit of misfortune, the floodgates of disaster opened up and overwhelmed the Coyotes.

Right winger Danny Cleary's shot from a right angle on the weak side with 6:19 left to play glanced off Phoenix goalkeeper Ilya Bryzgalov and into the net to give the Wings a lead they never relinquished. That was followed by a fluke of a goal by Todd Bertuzzi, who was in front of Bryzgalov and two defenders to poke the puck slowly over the goal line, and in a final moment of infamy, an empty net goal by Patrick Eaves with 35 seconds to play.

When the final horn sounded, the Coyotes' season was over. Most of the 17,314 remained in the stands at Jobing.com Arena and saluted the team with rousing and emotional chants of  "Let's Go Coyotes!"  Players raised their sticks in recognition as the chant lasted a good two minutes. 

"We thought we had a chance, capped off with, I don't know what the word would be, miserable year off-ice for this organization," defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "I think the players did just about everything they could and we did unbelievable under the circumstances. Come the playoffs they're still driving it through our brains that we might be moving out of here, so it was tough. It's no excuse... but for these poor young guys who had to deal with it for the first years of their careers it's almost devastating, I guess."

Bryzgalov was disappointed in his effort. It certainly wasn't his best, as the goaltender just couldn't find a rhythm throughout the series. 

"Disappointed," he said, then described the decisive goal by Cleary. "The puck hit me in the side of the leg and it (went) into the net. Tried to catch it but it was too late. Obviously it was my mistake. The team deserved a better fate, a better result. I'm the reason why we lost (the game)."

Tippett said the Cleary goal was a microcosm of the way the series went for the Coyotes. 

"That's just not the way you like to see things finish," he said. "If you looked at it, there were some times when we played fairly even but there was a lot of times where you talk about getting puck luck, well, they (the Red Wings) earned the puck luck."

The Coyotes led 2-1 and 3-2 during the game, hoping to extend their season. Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal had goals for Phoenix. Eaves finished with two for the Red Wings. Doan scored his third goal of the series. 

As for whether Game 4 was the last game for the Coyotes in the Valley, Tippett said all of "that stuff" would be taken care of. 

"Our guys did a very good job of managing it, keeping it outside the rink. That being said, there needs to be a solution to the situation. It is a competitive disadvantage... My focus is on how do we get better and how can we have the best chance to succeed on the ice, and the way to do that is stable ownership. I don't think you can win in this league without it.

"There needs to be a solution to it, to the situation here, and I think everybody recognizes that from the league to our management to our coaches to our players, so hopefully that distraction won't be there anymore."

Defenseman Keith Yandle said he's trying not to worry about it. Doan, who spent his rookie NHL season with the Winnipeg Jets before they moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes, said he wishes he could enjoy the end of the year and look back on it fondly, but "now I have to worry about everything else, and that's a frustrating feeling."

Doan feels embarrassed that the Coyotes were beaten in four straight games. But he said he does plan to come back to the Coyotes, wherever they are.

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Coyotes Vs. Red Wings Game 4: High Drama Heading Into Final Period

The game is tied at 3, and the third period looms in what could ultimately be the last 20 minutes of the NHL in Phoenix for who knows how long.

The Red Wings will have 17 seconds left on a power play after a high-sticking penalty against the CoyotesKyle Turris. The second period was full of knot-in-stomach moments, as both teams had their chances to take a lead into the intermission.

Can’t stress enough how hard both teams are playing. The Coyotes definitely showed up with that sense of urgency even if they’ve given up three goals. The Red Wings aren’t rolling over. They clearly want to sweep the series and move on.

The power play is once again the Coyotes’ friend. Only 1:09 into the second period, Ray Whitney tried to pass into the area in front of the goal from behind it, and the Phoenix player was there but whiffed on his shot. The puck kicked out to Radim Vrbata, who passed to center Martin Hanzal, who fired in wrist shot to give the Coyotes a lead.

Turris is playing very well and could have given Phoenix a two-goal lead at the 17:19 mark if not for a Jimmy Howard save.

The Red Wings took advantage of a penalty to the Coyotes’ Lauri Korpikoski. The puck came out in front to Niklas Kronwall, whose shot Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t stop.

There were no other goals but several close calls including a shot for each team that hit a post. For the Coyotes, Turris broke free ahead of the defenders and had his shot on point glove-saved by Howard at the 7:51 mark. Later, the Coyotes were able to kill off a Red Wings power play to the delight of the sellout crowd of 17,314.

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Coyotes Vs. Red Wings Game 4: A Glimmer Of Hope After 20 Minutes

It never ceases to amaze what players and fans can accomplish together to put a charge of energy and vitality into a team on life support in its playoff series.

There is more reason for Coyotes fans to take heart -- prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer, rocking some white team gear, is in the house at Jobing.com Arena. Speculation is that Hulsizer is in town for a rumored meeting with representatives of the Goldwater Institute, which threatens a lawsuit to block the city of Glendale's sale of bonds to meet the requirements of a lease agreement with Hulsizer. 

The fact that Hulsizer is here indicates he might still want to buy the Coyotes -- currently owned and operated by the NHL-- and keep them here in the desert.

At least the Coyotes are giving him and the fans a show. The Detroit Red Wings scored first but the Coyotes rallied to take a 2-1 lead, and it is tied at 2 after the first period of Game 4.

Tomas Holmstrom opened the scoring at the 16:13 mark. Center Pavel Datsyuk stick-handled into the middle and flipped a pass from behind his back to Holmstrom, who's shot beat Ilya Bryzgalov

It seemed as if the Red Wings had sucked the life out of the white pom-pom waving crowd yet again, but the Coyotes got their act together. Taylor Pyatt's shot from the wing glanced off a Detroit player's skate and into the net to make it 1-1 with 14:14 to play. 

Shane Doan's third goal goal of the series came at 10:14 of the first. Center Kyle Turris did the hard work, getting the puck to Doan for the shot again from goaltender Jimmy Howard's left that trickled over the goal line to make it 2-1. 

The Coyotes couldn't take a lead into the first intermission, though, as Patrick Eaves beat Bryzgalov with a tip-in on a centering pass from Darren Helm with 1:13 to play in the period.

Bryzgalov has stopped some big shots and looks to be playing with more confidence. The Coyotes will open the second period on their first power play.

It's not a bad time for Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood," which was played in between periods.

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Phoenix Coyotes Deal Parties And Interloper To Meet, Some Kind Of End Is Near

There's been a lot of talk about the NHL having already decided to sell the Phoenix Coyotes to a group of farmers in Winnipeg* with the delay only long enough so as not to create a stir during the playoffs. The mess has gone seemingly forever with accusations, rumors and flat out lies coming from all directions. But one thing everyone appears to agree on is a May deadline to have the deal done and the Coyotes permanently ensconced in Glendale or packing up their winter coats and moving to Canada.

The lasted news is news that shouldn't be news. The meddlesome Goldwater Institute has FINALLY agreed to step out of the shadows and have *gasp* a meeting with the City of Glendale to discuss their concerns. That meeting, according to the Phoenix Business Journal who's reporting on this has been exceptional, will take place on Thursday afternoon. 

In a slightly less news related development, the Arizona Republic's sports editor, Mark Faller, authored a rare editorial on the matter today.

Faller calls on prospective owner Matt Hulsizer to break his weeks-long silence and show his face in Glendale tonight. 

"There will not be any formal announcements today, but depending on what Hulsizer does - or fails to do - I fear we will know. One way or the other," Faller wrote.

* The group from Winnipeg known at True North Entertainment appears to be controlled by lawyer / businessman Mark Chipman, aka The Chipper. The Chipper, interestingly enough, went to school in North Dakota and began his career practicing law in Florida. He seems to have made his money with financial services company called National Leasing which was recently sold to Canadian Western Bank. 

The guy in the deal with even more money is billionaire David Thompson, aka The Third Baron Thompson of Fleet. Baron Thompson is one of the wealthiest dudes in the world and is a media mogul that puts Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch to shame. 

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