DETROIT -- Jimmy Howard barely broke a sweat before the Phoenix Coyotes began giving him fits on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Detroit Red Wings goaltender and his teammates fell behind just 29 seconds into the game on a goal by stay-at-home defenseman Sami Lepisto. Detroit overcame that hurdle, but fell behind in the final minute of the second period when Wojtek Wolski scored his third playoff goal in as many games.
But the Coyotes knocked the wind right out of the 20,066 in the stands when Radim Vrbata's low shot from the left circle managed to beat Howard to the near side.
Howard, who has put together a stellar rookie season, was disappointed in his performance. Detroit trails 2-1 in this best-of-seven series that resumes on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
"Three very untimely goals," Howard said. "First minute, last minute of the second period and then that fourth one … we sort of had the momentum there. I just have to refocus and get out there and have a good practice and look forward to Tuesday."
Howard said he would liked to have "three of them back," but it was Vrbata's goal that stood out for the Wings' goalie.
"I thought I was in the shooting lane all the way," Howard said. "I just couldn't reach for it. Just an untimely goal. In the playoffs, those kill you."
With Game 4 coming up, the experienced Red Wings know they still have time to right the ship. And Howard certainly isn't the only player on the roster who needs to step up his game.
"They were the better team for longer today," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "The neutral zone was an obstacle for us after the first period. I thought we had a good first period. We had a tough time with continuing to turn over pucks. When you're turning over pucks, you look like you've got no energy. We didn't skate and we didn't execute."
So what do Howard and the Red Wings need to do between now and Tuesday night?
"Forget about it … simple as that," Howard said. "I have to forget about it and put forth a better performance Tuesday."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL