New line dominates as Red Wings fly past Kings
Los Angeles — Does this keep Andreas Athanasiou in the lineup?
One game after being a healthy scratch, Athanasiou keyed a three-goal first-period outburst Thursday with a goal and two assists to lead the Red Wings to a 4-0 victory over Los Angeles.
After getting shutout in Anaheim and looking bad doing it, the Red Wings (17-17-5, 39 points) played one of their best games in weeks.
“Yesterday wasn’t good enough, we all knew that,” said Thomas Vanek, who scored two first-period goals. “We talked about getting pucks to the net and getting bodies to the net and for the most part we did a pretty job of that.”
With Vanek scoring twice and Frans Nielsen adding an assist, along with Athanasiou’s two assists, coach Jeff Blashill’s newest line creation dominated the score sheet.
“Nielsen and Vanek have been good together,” Blashill said. “Vanek thinks the game at a whole different level beyond most players, and Nielsen can give and go with him. AA gave them some speed on that line.”
Anthony Mantha scored his 10th goal in the third period — his sixth goal in seven games and 11th point in the last eight games — to cap the scoring.
Goalie Jared Coreau was the beneficiary of the offense, stopping 34 shots for his first NHL shutout.
“It’s a little bit of an accomplishment, personally, but we got the win,” Coreau said. “Sometimes you just get to shut it out, so it was good.”
But it was Athanasiou who was particularly intriguing.
Blashill hinted after Thursday’s morning skate that Athanasiou’s work ethic may have been a contributing factor.
“All I’m going to say (on the matter) is that I expect our guys to come and work and compete every day, in games and practice,” Blashill said. “Every. Single. Day. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
But Athanasiou was back in the lineup Thursday and keyed Vanek’s goal just 1:42 into the game, scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0, and then drove to the net with Vanek scoring on the rebound to make it 3-0.
“No one likes to be scratched,” Athanasiou said. “I didn’t try to do anything different (Thursday), just stuck to my game.
“We didn’t talk about it too much. Just put in the past and move forward.”
Blashill wants to see Athanasiou skate and consistently battle and the young player did against the Kings.
“When he’s that determined, he’s got big-time talent,” Blashill said. “You guys know it, I know it. Ultimately we’re a better team when AA is going at a high level, and he was going at a high level tonight.
“Now the challenge for every player is to follow that Saturday in San Jose.”