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'It's been a while': Athanasiou busts out of slump as Red Wings edge Predators, end three-game slide

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening (41) celebrates with Nick Jensen (3) and Andreas Athanasiou (72) after Glendening scored a goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period.

Nashville, Tenn. — The dads finally had a chance to cheer a victory on the final night of their road trip.

The Red Wings waited until the last game of this three-game trip, on the annual Fathers' Trip, to salvage a 3-2 victory over Nashville on Tuesday.

Andreas Athanasiou broke a 2-2 tie with his 18th goal — but first in 11 games — with a backhander at 4 minutes, 8 seconds of the third period.

Athanasiou, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 8, got to a loose puck and simply put a puck on net that flew over goaltender Pekka Rinne’s shoulder.

“It’s been a while,” said Athanasiou of his goal-scoring drought. “It was a lot of missed breakaways, a lot of good chances, hit crossbars. So the chances were there every game, just the puck luck wasn’t there.

“I had to work through it and I knew eventually, one would go in.”

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Predators 2

The fact Athanasiou was getting prime scoring opportunities during his slump kept coach Jeff Blashill optimistic Athanasiou would eventually break through.

“The chances he’s had, that’s not the one I’d pick he score on,” Blashill said. “He’s had a ton of chances. You get worried when you don’t get the chances. He’s had a ton of chances. We know he’ll score when he get those chances, and hopefully now he gets hot.”

Luke Glendening and Dylan Larkin (power play), with his career-high 24th goal had the other Wings goals. Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 32 shots and was sensational early, stopping 19 first-period shots to set the tone for the evening.

“He was outstanding all night, especially in the first period, but he made huge saves all night,” said Glendening of Howard. “He’s been all great all year and tonight was no exception.

“We just competed. It’s a momentum building and it was swinging against us for a while. But we stayed composed and to get two points here, is big.”

The Wings (22-28-7) ended a three-game losing streak and swept the two-game season series against Nashville, one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

“We can be a good team when we do things the right way,” Glendening said. “But we’ve had a hard time doing that every single night for 60 minutes. We’re going to keep working at it. We have 25 games left and we’re going to keep trying to do things right, no matter where we are in the standings.”

Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban (power play) scored for Nashville.

Glendening opened the scoring deflecting a point shot by Nick Jensen past Rinne at 15:05 of the first period, Glendening’s ninth goal.

The Wings preserved the early lead, killing 3:07 of consecutive Nashville power-play time early in the second period.

The Wings earned consecutive power plays of their own shortly after the penalty killing success, and on their second power play, Larkin scooped a loose puck at the post and flipped the puck into an open net with Rinne down the ice during a scramble at 7:13.

But the Predators quickly answered, with Arvidsson firing a shot past Howard at 7:49, Arvidsson’s 25th goal — and 17th in the last 20 games.

The Predators were able to tie the game late in the second period, Subban scoring on a shot from the top of the slot on the power play, Subban’s fifth goal.

“Our team played (well) overall. We competed hard for sure, certainly better from a mental standpoint than the first period in Chicago,” Blashill said. “They’re (Nashville) are a very good team, and we found a way on the road to get a win.”

Twitter: @tkulfan