Mantha’s hat trick, 5-point night powers Wings to 6-3 win over Bruins
Jeff Blashill and the Red Wings coaching staff have continually tried to get Anthony Mantha to shoot the puck more.
He certainly did that Sunday night, and also made a couple of passes.
The 24-year-old right wing had three goals and two assists to lead Detroit to a 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins at Little Caesars Arena. It was the Red Wings’ fifth win a row and seventh in their last eight games as they more than play out the string, with three games remaining in the season.
“Fun. Real fun,” said Mantha, who got his first career hat trick. “We’re just trying to enjoy the last couple of days, last week. It shows on the ice.”
The five points are also a career high. The outburst gave him 22 goals and 45 points on the season. Despite missing 16 games in 2018-19 with a broken hand, Mantha may be able to surpass his totals of 24 goals and 48 assists last season, which are career bests.
“I think he’s been playing really good here the last little bit,” Blashill said.
It was also a big night for Taro Hirose, who scored his first NHL goal, which was the game winner. It broke a 3-3 tie 1:25 into the third period and came only eight seconds after Mantha tied the game on the power play with his third goal of the night.
Hirose scored on a one-timer from the slot off the rush, which was set up by Andreas Athanasiou.
“It was surreal just to get the first one out of the way,” said Hirose, who had an assist in each of his first five NHL games. “I feel like I’ve been playing a little bit better, getting some chances, so it was good to get the first one.”
Mantha’s line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi stayed hot. Larkin had a goal and an assist and Bertuzzi three assists.
Mantha has five goals and 12 points in his last five games, Bertuzzi three goals and 10 points in his past four and Larkin five goals and three assists in his last five games.
“I think that line obviously has been excellent since we put them back together,” Blashill said. “They have good chemistry together. Generally, when they’ve played together, they’ve been really good so I think it’s great.”
Blashill also addressed concerns that the Red Wings winning so much late in the season reduces their chances of getting the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft lottery and the opportunity to take Jack Hughes in June’s NHL draft.
"The fact that our young players are the ones that are driving this winning streak should temper some of those concerns," Blashill said. "These are the guys that are going to make the impact than anybody we draft."
Defenseman Filip Hronek also had a goal and an assist and Athanasiou had two assists. Jimmy Howard made 25 saves.
All of Mantha’s goals came on one-timers.
He scored twice in the first period to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. The first came from the right circle off a pass from Larkin with 9:34 left in the first period. Mantha’s first power play goal of the night came with just a second left in the opening period. This time he ripped a shot from the high slot past Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak, off a short pass from Niklas Kronwall.
But Boston scored three times in the second period to take a 3-2 lead.
Jake DeBrusk (2:01), Brad Marchand (shorthanded, 9:50) and David Backes (a minute left), did the damage.
Mantha got his power-play goal 1:17 into the third period when put one in from below the right circle, converting Bertuzzi’s pass out of the left corner.
And after Hirose put the Wings ahead for good, Mantha set up Hronek (with 7:57 left) and Larkin (empty netter with 58 seconds remaining) for their goals. It was Larkin’s 32nd goal of the season and his 70th point.