Wings, Senators fighting to avoid East cellar
After salvaging the finale of the three-game road trip, the Detroit Red Wings now return home on Thursday night to face Ottawa, the only team below them in the Atlantic Division standings.
Detroit (22-28-7) won 3-2 in Nashville on Tuesday, with Andreas Athanasiou scoring the only goal in the third period. He shot it from a tough angle near the boards for his first tally since Jan. 8.
"I saw the rebound kind of just kick out," Athanasiou told NHL.com. "It was on my backhand, so I just tried to get it on net. It kind of ended up being a backhand clapper. I don't do it too often, but I'm happy it worked out."
The Wings lost at Buffalo and Chicago over the weekend before squeaking past Nashville. They hold a four-point advantage over league-worst Ottawa (21-30-5) as they try to stay out of the cellar.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who represented Detroit in the All-Star Game, made 32 stops in Nashville.
"(Tuesday) was a lot better compared to the last couple games," Howard said. "It was definitely more of a complete game. Even though they got one on our penalty kill, our penalty kill (5-for-6) was huge for us, and we got one on the power play as well."
Dylan Larkin has been huge for the Wings all season, and he scored his team-high 24th goal on a rebound during the second period.
"I don't think there's any question that Dylan has taken huge steps towards being that good, all-around centerman that you have to be to be a successful hockey team," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He's a huge building block for this team because of it. If all you do is score points, you're not a building block. If you score points and play defense, now you're a building block."
Left winger Tyler Bertuzzi is hopeful he can play on Thursday after missing the last six games due to a concussion. He suffered the brain injury on Jan. 22 against Edmonton.
"I've had a couple," Bertuzzi told the Detroit Free Press. "I know the feeling -- foggy, kind of not feeling right, little bit of blurry vision. My neck was sore, too."
The Senators have lost six of their last eight, including a 4-1 decision to Carolina on Tuesday and a 2-0 home defeat to Detroit on Feb. 2. Against the Hurricanes, Ottawa allowed all four goals in the third period, including two power-play goals after killing off every penalty the previous eight games, ending a string of 17 straight kills.
"That penalty and the 5-on-3 just kind of killed us and we couldn't get the kill when we needed it," defenseman Dylan DeMelo said. "Our PK's been really good for a long stretch now, but we just couldn't get that kill."
The Senators didn't make it easy on themselves, as they committed five penalties totaling 20 minutes. They were also outshot 37-26.
"Penalties killed us, plain and simple," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "That's the game right there."
Right winger Mark Stone leads the Senators with 26 goals and 57 points.
Ottawa holds a 2-1 lead in the season series with Detroit. The Senators took the first two games before the Wings bounced back earlier this month. Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier recorded his first shutout this season in Detroit's 2-0 win.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019