Red Wings denied

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Goalie Jason LaBarbera was too ill to play. Defenseman David Schlemko tried to go, but spent more time in the hallway than on the ice. So many other players were ailing that the Phoenix Coyotes had to keep buckets on the bench in case someone got sick.

Hit by a virus a day after losing three veteran players at the trade deadline and at a key juncture in the season, the win by the Coyotes on Thursday night might have been their most impressive victory all year.

Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots as a late replacement, Chris Conner scored in his Phoenix debut, and the Coyotes survived the flu – not to mention a late flurry by Detroit – to beat the Red Wings 4-2.

“I don’t know what happened over the course of the afternoon, but we had five or six guys who were sick that were questionable to play, throwing up on the way to the game,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “That’s the first game I think I’ve coached with two buckets beside me.”

Phoenix kicked off a critical three-game homestand by beating Los Angeles, but went through an emotional ride at the trade deadline, when veterans Raffi Torres, Matthew Lombardi and Steve Sullivan were traded away for a prospect and two draft picks.

The Coyotes made the deals to gain assets for three players who were about to become unrestricted free agents, but also to give some of the young players in their system an opportunity.

That chance came right away.

Johnson got two starts early in the season and was called up when Mike Smith went out with an upper body injury two weeks ago. Johnson didn’t find out LaBarbera was too sick to play until about six hours before the game, but was sharp despite the short preparation, turning away 30 shots.

Michael Stone and Shane Doan also scored in the second period, and Martin Hanzal made sure the Coyotes got a point in their fifth straight game with an empty-net goal with less than a second left.

Mikkel Boedker added a pair of assists for Phoenix, which moved up to 11th in the Western Conference, two points behind eighth-place St. Louis will 11 games left.

“We got some timely goals and held on there for the win,” Johnson said.

Detroit had the jump on the illness-ravaged Coyotes early, scoring less than two minutes into the game on a power-play goal by Valtteri Filppula. The Red Wings had no answer for Phoenix in the second period and couldn’t finish off a comeback following Daniel Cleary’s power-play goal with 1:13 left in the third period.

Detroit has lost three of four and is down to seventh in the West, a point ahead of the Blues.

“We see the standings, too. We know what’s going on,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve got 11 (games) left and have to take as many points as possible.”

The battered Red Wings – over 200 games lost to injury – limped into Phoenix, playing without center Damien Brunner, defenseman Kyle Quincey and right wing Mikael Samuelsson, along with Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, who have been out most of the season.

The good news for Detroit was Zetterberg was back after missing two games with a strained groin.

The Red Wings were sharp early, turning a penalty on Rob Klinkhammer in the opening minute into a power-play goal by Filppula on a rebound.

But after taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, Detroit couldn’t match the Coyotes.

“We’re disappointed in ourselves. We didn’t feel like we had the kind of second period we’re capable of,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve got to be better when these opportunities present themselves.”

The Red Wings pulled within a goal when Cleary tipped in a shot by Johan Franzen, but the Red Wings couldn’t get anything else past Johnson.