Coyotes swept for the final time?

Would-be owner Matthew Hulsizer was on hand to watch the Phoenix Coyotes get swept in their first-round playoff

Phoenix Coyotes fan Rob Jennings holds a sign in support of the Coyotes before they were swept out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday

Phoenix Coyotes fan Rob Jennings holds a sign in support of the Coyotes before they were swept out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday

Red Wings 6 at Coyotes 3

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Would-be owner Matthew Hulsizer was on hand to watch the Phoenix Coyotes get swept in their first-round playoff series against Detroit, a game that could mark the end of the NHL in the desert if serious roadblocks to the sale aren’t resolved.

Hulsizer declined a request for an interview but talked with fans outside Arena before Phoenix’s 6-3 loss Wednesday night. The Chicago businessman’s appearance, wearing a Coyotes jersey as he cheered on the team, in front of the sold-out crowd of 17,314 solidified earlier reports that he remains seriously interested in buying the team and keeping it in Arizona.

However, a promised lawsuit by the conservative watchdog group Goldwater Institute has held up the city of Glendale’s sale of bonds necessary to fill the requirements of the lease agreement reached with Hulsizer.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Rogers Sportsnet in Toronto that the league is “still focused on trying to make it work in Phoenix.”

He said the league could not wait forever on the deal closing but again denied reports that a move of the franchise to Winnipeg is imminent once the Coyotes’ season is over.

“Do we have an infinite amount of time? The answer is obviously not,” Bettman said. “But we haven’t been holding an announcement waiting to see when the Coyotes are done playing, I can assure you of that.”

The Goldwater Institute took the highly unusual step of writing traders to warn against buying the Glendale bonds because of the promised lawsuit, which will argue that the city’s deal with Hulsizer violates the state’s anti-subsidy law.

Hulsizer has been in regular contact with Goldwater Institute officials to try to resolve the situation. Glendale mayor Elaine Scruggs and other city officials were to meet with Goldwater representatives on Thursday. The Goldwater Institute had insisted such a meeting be open to the public but agreed to a private session with the unedited transcript to be released afterward.

“We are pleased to be meeting with Glendale in this open manner and look forward to sharing the results of the meeting with you,” Starlee Rhoades, the institute’s vice-president for external affairs, said in a statement released to reporters.

Season-ticket holder and self-proclaimed “ex-Canadian” Irwin Badowich was among the multitude of fans in “white-out” T-shirts cheering on the Coyotes.

“I’m very hopeful it can be resolved,” he said. “I wish the Goldwater Institute would have stayed out of it. We need hockey here.”

He said he believes the Goldwater threat is “mostly a bluff.”

The institute has resisted pressure from Republican Sen. John McCain, among others, to back off of its lawsuit vow.

Meanwhile, the market has driven up the price of the US$100 million in bonds the city must sell to complete the transaction. The funds would go to Hulsizer in the lease agreement, then be repaid through parking fees, a key aspect that the Goldwater Institute has opposed.

Last month, Hulsizer said he would guarantee $75 million of the city’s contribution, but that did not resolve the Goldwater Institute’s concerns.

The franchise never has made a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996. The NHL bought the franchise in U.S. Bankruptcy Court nearly two years ago, saying it wanted to find a buyer to keep the team in Arizona.

In his Toronto interview, Bettman would not comment on reports that he has had talks with Mark Chipman, who is heading the drive to bring the team back to Winnipeg.

However, Bettman said that if had to make a deal to move the team “my guess is I probably could arrange it.”

Capitals 4 at Rangers 3 (2OT)

Jason Chimera scored 12:36 into the second overtime and the Washington Capitals completed a three-goal comeback to beat the Rangers 4-3 and push New York to the brink of elimination Wednesday night.

New York scored three times in the second period to take a 3-0 lead and seemed poised to head back to Washington all even in the series for Game 5 on Saturday. But the top-seeded Capitals rallied to take a 3-1 lead and can advance to the second round with a win at home.

Alexander Semin started Washington’s rally, and Marcus Johansson scored twice in the third to make it 3-3.

The Rangers built their big lead on a goal by Artem Anisimov and after Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky scored seven seconds apart. Henrik Lundqvist was the hard-luck loser after making 49 saves.

Michal Neuvirth made 36 saves for Washington.

Penguins 3 at Lightning 2, (2OT)

James Neal scored 3:38 into the second overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference series.

Neal gathered a loose puck along the boards and sent the winning shot past goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had 50 saves for Tampa Bay. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots — nine in the extra periods — for the Penguins.

Game 5 is Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Martin St. Louis scored late in the second period and Sean Bergenheim added his first career playoff with less than 4 minutes remaining in regulation as Tampa Bay rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the second straight game. But unlike Game 3, when Pittsburgh’s Tyler Kennedy countered with the winning goal just 31 seconds after the Lightning tied it, Tampa Bay took this one into overtime.

Kennedy and Arron Asham scored in regulation for Pittsburgh.

Flyers 0 at Sabres 1

Ryan Miller made 32 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs and Buffalo beat Philadelphia to even the Eastern Conference series 2-2.

Jason Pominville scored at 9:38 of the first period to help the Sabres rebound from two straight losses.

It was Miller’s third career playoff shutout and second of the series after he stopped 35 shots in Buffalo’s 1-0 victory in Game 1. Flyers goalie Brian Boucher made 28 saves.

Game 5 is Friday night in Philadelphia.

Ducks 6 at Predators 3

Corey Perry’s short-handed goal at 1:17 of the third period put Anaheim ahead to stay and the Ducks beat Nashville tie the Western Conference series 2-2.

Game 5 is Friday night in Anaheim, with Ducks forward Bobby Ryan set to return from a two-game suspension.

Perry also had two assists. Cam Fowler had a power-play goal and had an assist, and Ryan Getzlaf, Brandon McMillan, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu added goals. Patric Hornqvist, Joel Ward and Matt Halischuck scored for Nashville, which blew a chance for its first ever 3-1 series lead.