The Detroit Red Wings buried the Phoenix Coyotes early, putting in five goals from five different goal scorers in the first period. Mike Smith sent to bench for second time in three starts.
There are hard fought losses and then there are beat downs that send you running home, questioning what you have been doing the entire season. Thursday night was the latter.
The Red Wings were hungry for a win after dropping their last two games and it showed. The ice looked tilted towards the Coyotes net all night, especially in the first period. The Red Wing players were left wide open in front of goalie Mike Smith multiple times and veteran Detroit players like Thomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi don't need to be told twice how to bang home a rebound.
The Red Wings had five different goal scorers in the period with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk being the primary playmakers, both registering two assist in the period. It was only the sixth time a team had been down five goals in the first period since 1995.
After Detroit's fourth goal Mike Smith would be replaced by Jason LaBarbera. It was Smith's second bad showing in his last three stars and has been pulled during or after the first period in both. In the two games he has been pulled in Smith has given up a combined eight goals in a little less than two periods. When it rains, it pours for the Coyotes. Thursday Smith would make four saves on 11 shots and LaBarbera would stop 20 of 21.
Detroit even seemed to lose interest in the game during the second period. The Coyotes had multiple odd man rushes and the Red Wings even took an unusual too many men on the ice penalty. The highlight of the period would come when Radim Vrbata rip a slap shot high glove side past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to give him his 14th goal of the season. For the eternal Phoenix Coyotes optimist, they did win the second period 1-0.
The Coyotes would be able to break their power play goal slump against the Red Wings 23rd ranked penalty kill Thursday. They would fail on two power play chances, 50 seconds being a five on three advantage, but Martin Hanzal would put in a man-advantage goal late in the third to break the slump. It was Hanzal's fourth of the season. The Coyotes are now two for their last 40 on power plays (5 percent).
It would be easier to celebrate under better circumstances, but on Hanzal's goal Ray Whitney registered his 600th career assist. It is quite a milestone and is further evidence of the great career Ray "The Wizard" Whitney has enjoyed in the NHL.
The blowout loss was a real momentum killer for the Yotes, who were coming off two quality road wins against Nashville and Chicago. The Coyotes are a good team, no, a great team and have proved it multiple times this season. However, they need to start showing it on a more consistent basis. Detroit is a perennial Stanley Cup contender and it was the end of a three-game road trip, but you won't hear any of the Coyote players using these as excuses. They know better than anyone that to be an elite team in the NHL you need to bring your best effort every single night. Two games in which you go down 4-0 and 5-0 in the first period does not send the message you want around the league.
The Coyotes return to Jobing.com Arena Saturday and look to get back on track against the Minnesota Wild, the Western Conference leader in points. Puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and tickets are still available for the Buck Bash night.