Athanasiou scores two as Detroit tops Boston, 3-1

The last place in the National Hockey League, Detroit Red Wings, beat the first place in the NHL, Boston Bruins, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.

Red Wings goaltender, Jonathan Bernier (12-14-2 record, 2.82 goals against average, .911 save percentage in 32 games played), stopped 39 out of 40 shots against for a .975 SV% in the win.

Bruins netminder, Tuukka Rask (20-5-6, 2.14 GAA, .911 SV% in 32 games played) made 17 saves on 19 shots faced for an .895 SV% in the loss after starting in Saturday’s, 4-2, win over the Arizona Coyotes.

Boston fell to 34-11-12 (80 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Detroit improved their record to 14-39-4 (32 points), despite staying in 8th place in the Atlantic.

The Bruins also fell to 15-9-3 on the road this season and are 0-2-0 against the Red Wings with two games remaining against Detroit in their season series.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (allergy complications) and Jeremy Lauzon (suspension) on Sunday, while Bruce Cassidy made a few minor changes to his lineup.

Danton Heinen returned to action on the fourth line left wing in Detroit, while Anton Blidh was joined by Urho Vaakanainen as the only healthy scratches for the B’s.

Vaakanainen was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on an emergency basis in case Brandon Carlo’s flight was delayed.

On defense, Carlo was back from his personal leave on the second pairing with Torey Krug and John Moore filled in on the right side of the third pairing with Matt Grzelcyk while Lauzon served the first half of his two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Arizona Coyotes forward, Derek Stepan, on Saturday.

Nordstrom, meanwhile, was retroactively placed on the injured reserve and may be available in time for Wednesday night’s action against the Montreal Canadiens.

Jaroslav Halak was expected to start in goal for Boston and took part in warmups as usual, but was not given the green light to start the game after feeling ill.

Instead, Rask made back-to-back starts on back-to-back days while Halak was deemed “available if necessary”. The last time Rask played on consecutive days was Nov. 12-13, 2016.

He won on both days as the Bruins beat the Coyotes, 2-1, on Nov. 12, 2016 and Colorado Avalanche, 2-0, on Nov. 13, 2016.

Brad Marchand tripped up Bernier in the trapezoid at 3:01 of the first period and presented Detroit with the game’s first power play, but the Red Wings weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Sean Kuraly tripped Valtteri Filppula at 10:55 and put the Red Wings back on the power play, but once more Detroit could not score.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Trevor Daley was guilty of holding Kuraly at 13:15 and gave Boston their first power play of the afternoon.

The B’s went on a two-skater advantage after Filppula tripped Jake DeBrusk at 13:57 and presented the Bruins with a 1:18 span of 5-on-3 action, but Bernier stood tall and denied each shot fired at him.

Late in the period, Justin Abdelkader tripped Charlie Coyle and presented Boston with another power play at 16:10, but Detroit’s penalty killing efforts were well oiled by that point and killed off Abdelkader’s minor infraction with ease.

Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, and and the Bruins led in shots on goal, 12-6.

Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Detroit led in blocked shots (5-1), giveaways (4-3) and hits (8-5).

The Red Wings were 0/2 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Early in the middle frame, Brendan Perlini (1) deked around Carlo and snapped a shot off of Rask’s glove and into the twine to give Detroit the first lead of the afternoon, 1-0, at 2:07 of the second period.

Adam Erne (2) had the only assist on Perlini’s first goal of the season, as well as his first as a Red Wing.

Midway through the second period, Marchand thought he had tied the game on a tip-in through Bernier’s five-hole off a no-look shot from David Pastrnak initially, but Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill, used his coach’s challenge– arguing that Boston had actually been offside entering the zone prior to the goal.

After review, it was determined that the Bruins were offside as Patrice Bergeron was in the midst of stepping off the ice and into the visiting bench while on a line change as Krug rocketed the puck around the boards.

The call on the ice was overturned– no goal– and the Red Wings remained in command of a, 1-0, lead with 7:27 remaining in the second period.

Late in the period, Detroit defender, Patrik Nemeth, held DeBrusk and was sent to the sin bin as a result at 17:04, but the Bruins went unsuccessful on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Through 40 minutes of action on Sunday afternoon, the Red Wings were still ahead, 1-0, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 26-13.

The B’s held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while Detroit led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (12-9) and hits (14-9).

After two periods of play, the Red Wings were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Early in the final frame, Pastrnak caught a Red Wing with a high-stick on a follow through while trying to corral the puck, but failing.

The follow through went uncalled and actually better positioned Pastrnak to receive a pass from Bergeron as Pastrnak entered the attacking zone alone, faked a shot, then slid a pass to Krug (8) for the one-timer goal that tied the game, 1-1, just 33 seconds into the third period.

Pastrnak (40) and Bergeron (24) tallied the assists on Krug’s goal.

After that, things only went downhill for Boston.

DeBrusk returned the favor from earlier in the game and tripped Daley and gave Detroit a power play at 6:01.

The Bruins penalty kill lasted a little more than a minute into the special teams play before the Red Wings perfected a quick pass through the slot from Tyler Bertuzzi to Andreas Athanasiou (6) for the one-timer goal as Rask couldn’t keep up with the short-range blast.

Bertuzzi (20) and Dylan Larkin (25) notched the assists on Athanasiou’s first goal in about 20 games– putting Detroit back into command with the, 2-1, lead at 7:10 of the third period.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but the Red Wings quickly capitalized on the open goal-frame in Boston’s own zone.

Detroit got a quick break out of their zone and sent Christoffer Ehn and Athanasiou on a two-on-one that became an unguarded breakaway– paving the way for Athanasiou (7) to score his second goal of the game and seal the deal on a, 3-1, victory for the Red Wings.

Ehn (2) and Filip Hronek (19) had the assists on Athanasiou’s empty net goal at 19:31.

At the final horn, Detroit finished the game with the, 3-1, win despite being outshot by Boston, 40-20.

The Red Wings finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (18-14) and hits (23-14), while the Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in faceoff win% (55-45).

Detroit went 1/3 and Boston went 0/4 on the power play.

The B’s dropped to 10-2-6 when tied after one period and 5-8-4 when trailing after two periods this season and had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Red Wings who had lost 10 out of their last 11 games entering Sunday.

Detroit has now defeated Boston in their last five regular season meetings.

One consolation for Boston, however, is that they still have won seven out of their last nine games.

The Bruins home for a two-game homestand against Montreal on Wednesday (Feb. 12th) and Red Wings on Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.