Big nights for Howard, Athanasiou lead Wings past Senators, 3-2
Jimmy Howard made his 500th career game a good one.
He made 40 saves as the Red Wings held off the Ottawa Senators 3-2 at Little Caesars Arena Thursday.
Andreas Athanasiou scored twice – including a penalty shot – to reach 20 goals for the first time in his young career. Athanasiou also has three goals in his last two games.
Frans Nielsen’s goal with three minutes left in the second period was the game-winner, breaking a 2-2 tie.
Asked if winning makes his milestone better, Howard replied, “.
“A’s (Athanasiou) doing what he does best in the first period, Frans burying one in the second, that’s all we needed tonight. It was nice.”
Howard joins Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk and Chris Osgood as the only goalies to play 500 games with the Red Wings in franchise history.
“I think one of the biggest things is he’s never satisfied. He’s always looking to get even better,” Niklas Kronwall said about Howard. “I don’t know if I’ve seen him play better than he has this season, to be honest with you. It’s pretty impressive.”
Nielsen got his ninth goal from the bottom of the left circle, by converting a pass from Darren Helm after a turnover by Ottawa defenseman Dylan DeMelo.
Matt Duchene tied it at 2 for the Senators with 6:21 left in the second. He skated around Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and beat Howard.
The Red Wings led 2-1 after the first period.
Athanasiou scored his first goal with 9:16 left in the first. He cut in off left wing, skated across the crease and beat Ottawa goalie Anders Nilsson with a backhand shot.
Brady Tkachuk tied the game 1-1 with 3:36 remaining in the opening period when he put in a loose puck from in front.
Athanasiou restored Detroit’s one-goal lead when he scored on a penalty shot with 2:18 left in the first period. Ottawa defenseman Christian Jaros impeded Athanasiou on a breakaway attempt. It was Athanasiou’s career-high 20th goal and third in two games.
After being a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game on Thursday, rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski was sent down to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, Blashill announced after Thursday night’s game.
“He will play tomorrow night for Grand Rapids,” Blashill said. “Like we’ve done with most of these young guys, we’re looking at what’s best for their long-term development. One, he’s got to play, Two, he gets into an environment where he can make mistakes and they’re not as costly as they are at this level. Then he can learn and grow at times at a greater rate than he has here lately.
“We got to make sure we put the individual growth of some of these young guys at a paramount step in our development process, and we felt it was the best move for his individual development.”
… Martin Frk cleared waivers and was also assigned to AHL Grand Rapids.
... The Red Wings lead the NHL with four penalty shot attempts this season. They’ve been successful on two (both by Athanasiou), which ties the Vancouver Canucks for the league lead.
… Larry Murphy returned to the Red Wings FOX Sports-Detroit broadcast team on Thursday night. He served as the analyst on Red Wings Live before the game. The Hall of Fame defenseman, who helped the Red Wings win two Stanley Cups, will serve as a game analyst alongside play-by-play man Ken Daniels on March 2.
Murphy was fired by FSD late in the 2013 season, telling the media he was told it was due to poor ratings.
Murphy replaces Darren Eliot, who was hired as vice president of hockey programming and facility operations for the Vegas Golden Knights. Eliot will also head the Jr. Golden Knights Youth program.