Anthony Mantha’s goal lifts Red Wings in OT

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Montreal —As any young player would, Anthony Mantha loves to return home and play in front of family and friends.

But Mantha seems to be thriving on the idea whenever he returns to his native Montreal.

Mantha scored with 49.6 seconds left in overtime Tuesday, giving the Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 2, Canadiens 1, OT

Goaltender Jimmy Howard was superb again and the Red Wings’ power play, so disappointing the night before in a loss against Buffalo, scored just 53 seconds into the game, spurring the victory.

But it was Mantha’s heroics in overtime that clinched the win.

It was the third goal for Mantha in six career games against the team he grew up watching and cheering.

“It always feels good,” said Mantha of playing in Montreal. “There’s a lot of texting me just staying they’re going to the game and it’s fun to have them around.

“It’s always fun to play here.”

The goal, beating goaltender Al Montoya (Michigan) from the high slot, was the 15th for Mantha this season and ended a six-game goal-scoring drought. It was Mantha’s first point in five games since returning from being a healthy scratch for two games.

Coach Jeff Blashill felt Mantha played particularly well toward the end of Monday’s game in Buffalo, and the effort carried over.

“He built on that,” Blashill said. “He played real well, he was excellent. He moved his feet and competed hard and when he does that, he’s a real good player.”

The Red Wings (29-32-11, 69 points) won their third in four games.

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Howard (35 saves) was 2 minutes 29 seconds away from a shutout when Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen’s shot in transition from the top of the slot beat Howard for his 13th goal.

Otherwise, Howard was outstanding while earning his third win in four starts since returning from nearly three months of inactivity after spraining his knee.

“Jimmy has played as well as he was before (the injury),” Blashill said. “The numbers dictate that. He’s continued to play real good hockey.”

The Red Wings’ power play, struggled the night before but struck quick in this one.

It got on the ice early when Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was called for interference just 39 seconds into the game.

A night after the Red Wings went 0-for-4 in a disappointing loss to Buffalo, it only took 14 seconds to score on their first attempt against Montreal.

Frans Nielsen won the faceoff and got the puck to Niklas Kronwall who lifted the shot toward the net.

Montoya made the stop but Justin Abdelkader was at the crease. Montoya made the first stop but Abdelkader flipped the rebound over Montoya at the 53 second mark giving the Red Wings an early lead.

“Getting that power play goal early was big,” Blashill said.

The Red Wings’ penalty kill was effective in wiping away three Montreal power plays, but Howard was the usually best penalty killer the Red Wings had.

For the Red Wings, it was another evening where despite their disappointing place in the standings, they showed resolve and character in earning a victory on the road against the Atlantic Division leaders.

“Now might be more important than ever, doing the right things and getting the right habits down,” said Kronwall of playing out the schedule professionally. “If you start faltering with that right now, then the guys coming up will see that and think that’s the norm.

“It doesn’t work like that. It’s not how you win. You keep working on the habits every day and doing the right things and seeing the work ethic every day. It’s something we’re trying to focus on through the last stretch here.”