WINGS POSTGAME: ATHANA-I-SEE-YOU

The Detroit Red Wings were not busy during Monday’s trade deadline, making their only move on Saturday, moving Jakub Kindl to the Florida Panthers for a sixth round draft pick. However, they were busy Monday evening in Dallas, especially netminder Jimmy Howard. 

The Red Wings entered play on Monday on a two-game winning streak, after defeating the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 at Coors Field on Saturday. After losing their first game vs. Dallas with Howard in net, it was a bit surprising when head coach Jeff Blashill announced that Howard would start tonight. It wasn’t known until two hours before puck-drop that Petr Mrazek was out with a minor groin injury he suffered on Saturday, so Jared Coreau was recalled to backup Jimmy. 

It was a fast paced first period, which you could have predicted with the Red Wings and Stars in action. Both team possess high-octane offences and a tonne of speed, but neither team capitalized in the first period. Each team had a power-play in the first, but weren’t able to cash. Howard battled through a shaky start, to stop all 16 shots in the opening frame. 

The Red Wings opened the scoring midway through the second period when rookie Andreas Athanasiou started a rush and finished the play off when he found a loose puck at the hashmarks. 

Shortly after the Red Wings took the lead, the teams traded power-plays before the Stars tied it up late on a questionable goal. Stars’ forward Colton Sceviour appeared to kick the puck past Howard, but the refs stuck with the call on the ice. You be the judge. 

Detroit was headed to the third period in familiar territory, in a tight, low-scoring game. They were outshout 29-17 through two periods, but Howard continued to stand tall in search of his first win since December 3rd. The third period started off slowly with both teams trading less than dangerous chances, until Athanasiou picked the puck up at the redline and took Johnny Oduya to school for his second of the night and fourth on the year. 

General manager Ken Holland said he didn’t make a move at the deadline because he was happy with his young team and when you see AA score goals like that just 18 games into his NHL career, you see what he means. At the time of his second goal, Athanasiou hadn’t seen much ice-time, but then Blashill couldn’t get him off of the ice. AA was searching for that hat trick, but wasn’t able to complete it. Three minutes after that absolute beauty, the Stars went on the power play and the Red Wings needed a crucial kill. Queue Jimmy Howard….

With under three minutes left the Red Wings looked to be on there way to a third straight win. They had killed off a Niklas Kronwall penalty, but then a disputed icing put the face-off in the Red Wings zone. When Jonathan Ericsson was unable to clear it after a face-off win, Vernon Fiddler chipped the puck in from a bad angle and tied it at 2-2.

The game was headed to overtime, where the Red Wings are probably as comfortable as any team in the league. Neither team was able to muster any great chances in the early stages of the overtime frame, until former Red Wings’ prospect Mattias Janmark took a tripping penalty and sent the Red Wings to a 4-on-3 power-play. Detroit failed to score on their previous 18 power-plays, so they were presented an opportunity to snap that streak and put an end to Howard’s lengthy losing streak. Pavel Datsyuk was about to be held off of the score sheet for a fifth straight game until…

WHY THE RED WINGS WON

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Two words: Jimmy. Howard. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that, but it feels good. 

MOTOR CITY MVP

It is nearly impossible to say just Howard is the MVP when Athanasiou was absolutely fantastic as well. Howard stopped 39 of 41 shots, which means he has stopped 74 of the last 77 shots (.961 SV%) that he has faced. Much like Dylan Larkin at the start of the season, Athanasiou is here to stay. He is showing that he can play at this level and his speed has been a difference maker. 

SEE YOU NEXT TIME

The Red Wings get Tuesday off as they head back home to get set for their game vs. the Blackhawks on Wednesday. Puck-drop is at 8:00 p.m. see you then!