- Associated Press - Sunday, April 17, 2011

GLENDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - The Phoenix Coyotes are back home, at least its home for now, looking to climb back from a two-game deficit in their first-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings.

Speculation of the Coyotes‘ imminent departure from Arizona is nothing new to the players, who have been dealing with the issue for more than two years now while the NHL has tried to find an owner who would keep the team in the desert, where the temperature approached triple digits over the weekend.

Not exactly hockey weather, but fewer than a thousand tickets remained for Monday night’s Game 3 of the best-of-seven series. Tradition, such as it is for this franchise, dictates all will wear the proper shirts for a “white-out.”

The Coyotes brushed aside the issue of their future beyond this series. Instead, they’re focused on trying to slow the Red Wings, specifically Pavel Datsyuk, who has two goals and three assists in two games. One of the goals and all three assists came in Detroit’s 4-3 Game 2 win on Saturday.

“He’s an all-world player, that’s for sure,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve tried a few different matchups against him that haven’t worked very well and we’ll keep trying until we find a solution.”

Coyotes captain Shane Doan said Datsyuk has “been incredible.”

“You tip your hat to him, the things he does and the way he plays,” Doan said. “You admire him and you cant give him any free opportunities. He’s so good at creating opportunities you have to make sure you don’t give him free ones and you do your best to limit that.”

The Coyotes held a team meeting at Jobing.com Arena on Sunday, with a handful of players taking part in an optional skate afterward. The Red Wings, meanwhile, skated briefly at a Scottsdale arena.

Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg made the trip but is not expected to play because of a sprained left knee.

“We played two good home games,” he said. “The last one got really close.”

The Red Wings led 4-0 before having to hold on to win.

“They had a few power plays and a five-on-three and all of a sudden you’re right back in the game,” Zetterberg said. “It happens quickly in hockey and you’ve just got to respond and I think we did.”

Shortly before the series began, reports surfaced an unnamed source as saying the decision had been made to move the Coyotes to Winnipeg after this season. NHL officials quickly denied the reports, but with the potential sale of the team to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer stalled by the threat of a lawsuit from a conservative watchdog group, the Coyotes‘ future in Arizona is murky, at best.

The Coyotes found the timing of the Winnipeg reports curious.

“It’s almost a chuckle to start with,” Tippett said. “It is what it is. I think (for) our group it’s become part of the ongoing dilemma around our team that after a while you don’t even listen to it anymore. But I found it interesting that four hours before Game 1 everywhere you look there’s a thing that we’re going to Winnipeg.”

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