Red Wings’ young guns step up down the stretch

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings' Anthony Mantha had two second-period goals in Monday's 4-3 overtime win.

Raleigh, N.C. — One thing this last month of the regular season, really much of this season, has shown is the Red Wings do have a young nucleus to build around.

Dylan Larkin arrived last season and hasn’t disappointed, while Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou have arrived on a full-time basis this season and thrived.

Mantha had two second-period goals in Monday’s 4-3 overtime victory in a span of 70 seconds, while Athanasiou scored the game-winning overtime goal for the second consecutive day.

The goals gave Athanasiou 18 and Mantha 17 for the season.

“That trio (including Larkin) is certainly talented for sure,” Blashill said. “Continuing to learn the two-way hockey you have to play to win in this league over however many games we have left will be a valuable lesson moving forward for the organization.”

What bodes well for the future is the fact both Mantha and Athanasiou have been scoring key, winning goals in recent games and have shown the ability to at least carry their share of the offense.

“We need some of these young players, that are good players, to be guys that we can win hockey games with,” Blashill said. “Our record is reflective of the group we have, and they are a big impact on it. They are playing important minutes.

“They can help us win and that is the most important thing. We want a winning group here.”

Mantha has three goals in the last four games, and has seemed to benefit from a two-game healthy scratch for not skating hard, in Blashill’s estimation, during several games.

Mantha, 22, has put forth a consistently noteworthy effort since the benching.

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“If I do skate, I have a lot of scoring chances and a lot of offensive zone time with my linemates,” Mantha said. “It makes a huge difference in my games. I need to be ready mentally and physically.”

Lack feels good

Carolina goalie Eddie Lack was released from the hospital late Monday with a diagnosed neck strain.

Lack was injured on Athanasiou’s game-winning goal after Athanasiou was cross-checked into the goaltender by teammate Jeff Skinner.

Lack lay on the ice for several minutes before being put on a stretcher and wheeled off the ice. Both teams stood by Lack, concerned for the goaltender’s well-being, as he was being treated.

“It’s great,” said Blashill of the news. “I talked to (Carolina coach) Bill Peters (after the game) and felt after talking to him he was going to be OK.

“It was very precautionary, which I understand, they certainly have to do that. Thankfully, he’ll be all right.”

Athanasiou was unaware he ran into Lack with that much force.

“I had no idea I hit him,” said Athanasiou of the play. “The D-man cross-checked me pretty hard and I must have ran into him a little bit. I don’t know what part of me hit him.

“You never like to see a guy go down like that, and go out on a stretcher.

“I just drove to the net and felt the D-man’s stick on my back. He hit me pretty hard. I was just trying to put the puck in the net. Even after, I had no idea I had made contact with him.”

Roster decisions

The Red Wings recalled forward Ben Street, while sending down defenseman Dan Renouf.

Street replaced Athanasiou, who was sore after absorbing that check from Skinner on the collision with Lack.

With Niklas Kronwall returning to the lineup, Renouf wasn’t needed – Renouf replaced Kronwall in Monday’s lineup.

Tomas Nosek replaced Luke Glendening (lower body), who was injured in Monday’s game.