Detroit — In terms of wins and losses, not a whole lot matters for the cellar-dwelling Detroit Red Wings right now.
But first-year Red Wing Brendan Perlini scoring his first goal with the club? Andreas Athanasiou raising his trade stock with two third-period goals on national television? Going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill?
Those details certainly do matter, and as it turns out, they're the exact details that Detroit needed to follow in order to pick up a 3-1 win over the league-leading Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.
Athanasiou scored the winning, power-play goal in the third period for Detroit (14-39-4) and iced the game with an empty-netter. Livonia's Torey Krug (Michigan State) netted the only goal for Boston (34-11-12).
The pair of goals for Athanasiou snapped a 20-game scoring drought dating to Nov. 16. Dylan Larkin corralled the puck below the goal line and kicked it out to Tyler Bertuzzi, who found Athanasiou cross-crease for a bang-bang play.
"Obviously, taking the lead there is the most important thing," Athanasiou said. "The boys moved it around pretty good there to give me a pretty open chance. Fortunately, that one found a hole and went in."
Jonathan Bernier was magnificent again in net for the Wings again, stopping 39 of the Bruins' 40 shots.
"The last few games we've had a little 'bend, bend, but don't break,' where we haven't given up a ton of big-time chances, but certainly a ton of shots and zone time," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "His confidence has obviously blossomed as he's played better and better."
Penalties on Trevor Daley (holding) and Valtteri Filppula (tripping) gave Boston a 5-on-3 power play for 1:13 in the opening period. Bernier was forced to get cross-crease to make a stop on Brad Marchand on three occasions, but the Wings killed off both minors.
The Wings went 4-for-4 on penalty-kill opportunities and blocked 12 shots total in the game.
"A 5-on-3 against them, if you kill that, it's going to give you some momentum," Bernier said. "I thought we battled hard, we had some big blocks."
Detroit came out buzzing to start the second. Adam Erne blocked a shot and got the puck to Perlini in the neutral zone. Perlini carried the puck into the attacking zone, weaved left, and beat Tuukka Rask glove-side for his first of the season at 2:07.
Perlini had accumulated 38 shots throughout the season entering Sunday's game. On the one that finally hit the back of the net, the former 12th overall pick in 2014 said he just gripped it and ripped it.
"(I've been) kind of picking spots and stuff like that, and it obviously hasn't been working," Perlini said. "I think my shot is so quick and fast, that as long as I get it on net, it's got a chance."
Bernier continued to keep Detroit up a goal throughout the second, despite a Bruins attack that had completely taken over the game. Marchand appeared to have tied the game at 12:33 with a soft redirect that went five-hole.
The play was overturned after a long video review ruled Marchand entered the zone offside, holding the Wings' 1-0 lead. Detroit killed another penalty to end the second frame.
"I actually started to worry once it was that long, to be honest with you," Blashill said. "Our guys were 100% convinced they were offside. ... We won the challenge, so I didn't ask, but as it kept going and going, I thought, 'Boy, this might go the wrong way all of a sudden."
Robby Fabbri went straight to the locker room with an upper-body injury after getting bumped by Bruins forward Chris Wagner and did not return. Perlini took over his role on the first line to start the third, playing with Larkin and Luke Glendening.
The Bruins immediately tied things up to start the third. David Pastrnak fed Krug on a rush to easily beat Bernier 33 seconds into the period.
The Wings' second line of Bertuzzi, Athanasiou and Taro Hirose continued to keep the pressure on with a one-goal lead. The group had a chance on the attacking end, and after play went the other way, Hirose blocked a shot to end a flurry of scoring chances for the Bruins.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.