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Double-A, Larkin ignite Wings in 5th straight win

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit center Dylan Larkin celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the first period.

Detroit — Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou are two of the more exciting young Red Wings players.

Both players were at their best Tuesday, leading the Red Wings (5-2, 10 points) to their fifth consecutive victory, 4-2 over Carolina.

Larkin scored his first two goals of the season in the first period, while Athanasiou set up Thomas Vanek for the game’s first goal and later scored himself.

Goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 29 shots, including some key stops as the Hurricanes swarmed in the final minutes.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 4, Hurricanes 2

The five-game Red Wings' win streak is their longest since in 2015 when they won six consecutive games from Jan. 13-27.

"It’s the way we’re playing, we have to keep going and we can’t take the foot of the gas,” said Larkin of the win streak. “We have a big test on the road (Thursday) in St. Louis, a good team, especially at home. We have to do the right things that have made us successful in the last five games.”

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Athanasiou’s goal gave the Red Wings a 4-2 lead at 17 minutes, 4 seconds of the second period, shortly after the Hurricanes cut the Red Wings' lead to 3-2.

Luke Glendening and Steve Ott did fine work on the play, each drawing assists, as they battled to dig the puck out of the corner, gained possession, and Glendening found Athanasiou alone in the circle.

Athanasiou patiently waited, strode in, and fired a shot into the top corner, beating Carolina goalie Cam Ward for his second goal this season.

“They’ve (Ott, Glendening) been working hard every single game, night in and night out,” Athanasiou said. “I could sit back a little bit and Glennie got the puck and saw me. After they had scored the last two there, it’s good to take away their momentum.”

The second period was the Red Wings’ weakest Tuesday, but the Athanasiou goal was a huge one, giving them breathing room — something they didn’t do much of last season.

“That’s the biggest difference, we score that fourth goal this year and you have that two-goal cushion,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If it goes the wrong way, you’re still fine. It’s been a huge difference, we’ve done a good job of scoring that extra goal when we need it.

“You find ways to win. We weren’t perfect, but we found a way to win.”

The road-weary Hurricanes (1-3-2) — they’ve yet to play at home this season because of the state fair at their arena — have lost two games in a row.

Jordan Staal and Victor Rask scored for the Hurricanes.

Staal sliced the lead to 3-1 when a miscommunication between Frans Nielsen and Brendan Smith led to the Hurricanes going 2-on-0 on Mrazek at 6:43 of the second  period.

After consecutive Hurricanes' power plays went nowhere, Rask scored to cut the Red Wings lead to 3-2 with his fourth goal.

Being that it was Dylan Larkin Bobblehead Night, fittingly Larkin broke out of his goal-scoring slump.

Looking for his first goal of the season Larkin scored twice in the first period to end any talk of slumps, droughts or skids.

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“It was a good feeling, some relief,” said Larkin of scoring his first goal on a breakaway, getting nice pass from Henrik Zetterberg. “I was thinking about it a lot. It was a nice pass from Z to send me on the breakaway. A good feeling, definitely.”

Blashill felt it was only a matter of time before Larkin would get going offensively.

“He’s been skating well for a few days,” Blashill said. “I talked to him after the last game and told him to keep playing the way you’re playing and it’ll come.

“Scorers feel better about themselves when they score. He’s been playing good hockey.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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