Detroit rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard earned his first post-season shutout as the Red Wings put their Stanley Cup hopes back on track with a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
Howard, who surrendered four goals in each of Detroit’s last two games, turned in an air-tight performance with 29 saves to send Detroit back to Phoenix tomorrow with the best-of-seven Western Conference series tied 2-2.
Henrik Zetterberg scored twice for the Wings to push his playoff total to five in four games, while Pavel Datsyuk got the other Detroit goal.
“It’s important they find their way themselves, the good players have all got to survive at this time of year,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock told reporters. “I said to the guys before the game, ‘we need to win tonight.’”
“This is why you’re in sports, for games like this,” he said. “You have to bring it when it counts. That’s what sport is all about. That’s what Howie has to do if he’s going to be a top flight goaltender in the National Hockey League. We’ve seen lots of guys do it well in the regular season and not deliver at playoff time and I’m real comfortable he’ll be able to.”
Despite two shaky outings, Babcock stuck with Howard instead of going to veteran backup Chris Osgood and was rewarded with a gritty effort from his 26-year-old rookie.
Among Howard’s highlights was one save that knocked off his mask followed immediately by a pad save on the rebound.
“A little adversity has never hurt anybody and that’s what I told myself yesterday,” Howard said. “I can’t get too high just because I got the shutout tonight, it could be a whole different game on Friday so I have to enjoy this, but just like I did Sunday I have to forget about it.”
SHARKS 2, AVALANCHE 1
At Denver, Joe Pavelski scored the overtime winner as the top-seeded San Jose Sharks beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Tuesday to tie their NHL playoff series at 2-2.
Pavelski gathered up a loose puck deep in Colorado’s zone and beat Craig Anderson with a shot into the right corner.
Dan Boyle gave the Sharks an early lead, knocking in a slap shot.
The Avalanche countered with a second-period goal by Paul Stastny, his first of the series.
Evgeny Nabokov stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, and Anderson blocked 43 for Colorado.
FLYERS 4, DEVILS 1
In Philadelphia, the hosts took a commanding 3-1 lead in their series against New Jersey.
Jeff Carter scored two goals and Danny Briere had one to end their series scoring droughts, while unlikely postseason star Daniel Carcillo scored his second goal in two games for the Flyers.
PENGUINS 7, SENATORS 4
In Ottawa, Sidney Crosby had four points, including two of Pittsburgh’s five second-period goals, leading the Penguins to a 3-1 series lead over Ottawa.
Crosby assisted on Evgeni Malkin’s power-play goal in the first period.
Crosby scored two of Pittsburgh’s three goals in a 2:25 span early in the second. Matt Cooke scored 12 seconds after Crosby’s first goal to make it 3-0, and the Penguins’ 22-year-old captain added his fourth goal of the series at 6:12.
Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists and Maxime Talbot had a goal and an assist as the teams combined for eight goals in the second, one short of the NHL playoff record for goals in a period.
PREDATORS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1
In Nashville, Tennessee, Nashville took their first ever 2-1 lead in an opening-round series, edging ahead of Chicago.