SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Detroit Red Wings have certainly been here before: Up 2-0 after skating circles around a frustrated opponent, delighting the home crowd at Joe Louis Arena and giving every fan who smuggled a squid into the seats to have a chance to put it on ice.
But the last 11 times the Wings have gone up 2-zip, they went on the road and promptly lost Game 3 to a revitalized foe and their energizing fans. As recently as 2007, Detroit twisted Calgary into a pretzel twice in Detroit, only to head to Alberta and watch the Flames turn the tables and tied the series.
The Coyotes played their best hockey of the series in the final two periods of Game 2, scoring three power-play goals to turn a 4-0 laugher into a 4-3 white-knuckler. Good news for Phoenix, but that may also serve only to have the Red Wings more focused on taking complete control when the series moves to Jobing.com Arena for Game 3 Monday night.
"We got off to a good start, but we know we've got a long way to go here," Detroit center Kris Draper said. "They're probably going to build off the third period they had with a big momentum swing. We know they're going to come.
"We've done some good things so far in Games 1 and 2, but we know Game 3 is a very important game for both teams. We want to make sure we're ready to go and respond.''
Detroit will again be without Henrik Zetterberg, although his knee injury is improving. Zetterberg skated with his teammates for the first time since the April 6 hit by Carolina's Bryan Allen, although he steered clear of contact.
"It was about an hour. I don't know if I did that much," Zetterberg said. "It's fun to be out there. Step by step. I felt a little better than yesterday. As long as that progress is going that way, I'm happy.''
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is concerned about the amount of penalties his team is piling up. Detroit dodged a bullet in Game 1 when the Coyotes failed on six power-play chances – four of them in the first period – but in Game 2, Phoenix clicked on three of their last five chances to construct a rally.
"We average about eight minutes in penalties throughout the year and suddenly we're getting 17, so something's different about (the refereeing)," Babcock said. "We're a very disciplined team, and we got to be real disciplined (in Game 3). We got to stay out of the penalty box, and we’ve got to be better on the penalty-kill.''
Detroit has had good success in Phoenix. They won three of four playoff games here last year, including a 6-1 thrashing in Game 7. And there is always a strong legion of Red Wings fans who enjoy adding a red hue to Phoenix's traditional "White Out" for the postseason – dozens of them showed up in Scottsdale for Sunday's practice at the Ice Den just to get a peek at their hockey heroes.
"You always love when you can go into another team's building in the playoffs and hear some chants. There is a good following here," Draper said. "But the bottom line is us making sure we're ready to play."
The Red Wings have done a good job of getting traffic in front of Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov – something they've done in the past with great success. Tomas Holmstrom was in Bryzgalov's face for both Detroit power-play goals in Game 2, and then deflected a goal past him to give the Wings a 4-0 lead.
"Seems like it was one of those days. He had a hard time seeing the puck," Holmstrom said. "Guys from the point made some good shots through there. We got to him yesterday but for sure he's going to bounce back. He played great in the third for them and gave them a chance to get back in the game. We got to get more pucks to the net and more screens on him."