The Red Wings defeated the Dallas Stars 5-4 in thrilling fashion and will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the championship game Tuesday night at 7 PM. The Wings are 3-0 in the tournament, and the Blue Jackets are last year's winners.
The game started out exciting with the Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou striking first to give the Wings a 1-0 lead on the power play. Larkin got the goal be being smart and going to an opportune area, but this goal was 90% Andreas Athanasiou. Just watch the goal below and you'll see what I mean. All the way from the faceoff circle in his own zone, past one Star, through two more, into the corner, around the net, with three Stars in tow, then a slick pass to Dylan Larkin who was out in front of the goalie.
Devin Shore tied the game for the Stars with just a couple minutes left in the 1st period and then former Wings prospect Mattias Janmark scored to put the Stars up 2-1 with 12:19 left in the 2nd period. The Wings would not stand for this however and less than two minutes later, right off the faceoff Evgeny Svechnikov tied the game with some help from Vili Saarijarvi and Tomas Nosek. It happened so quickly off the faceoff that I missed recording puck drop and also the start of the goal.
The Wings and Stars finished the 2nd period tied at 2. The 3rd period started to get out of control for the Wings when Jason Dickinson and Brett Pollock struck just 3 minutes apart early in the period to gave the Stars a 4-2 lead, and of course Mattias Janmark assisted on both goals. Some people started to worry or bite their fingernails, but there was no need to worry. Three minutes after Dallas took a 2 goal lead, the Wings went to work on the power play and Dylan Larkin set Robbie Russo up for a goal from the blueline.
This is where things got really exciting. With less than 5 minutes to go in the 3rd, the Stars were still up by a goal and a regulation win for Dallas would mean the Wings played for 3rd place instead of 1st. But wait, what's that I hear? BY GOD THAT'S ANDREAS ATHANASIOU'S MUSIC! AAAAHHHHHHH AND THE CROWD WENT WILD!!! Mantha passed the puck up to Athanasiou who was about to enter the O zone (and boy was it the OH zone) AA shot the puck, grabbed his own rebound and cut in front of the net and BOOM! TIE GAME!
BUT WAIT HE'S NOT DONE YET! Two minutes later, with two and a half minutes left in regulation, Tomas Nosek flipped the puck up ice to Athanasiou who streaked in on the goalie, got tripphooked and taken down and STILL SCORED THE GAME WINNING GOAL!!! I wish I could somehow let you all experience what those Athanasiou goals were like in person. Imagine holding your breath in anticipation every time he touches the puck, then all the hairs on your arms stand on end as he streaks up ice, then the first shot doesn't go in, or he's taken down on the play and for a second there's this uncertainty in the air AND THEN THE RED LIGHT COMES ON AND OH MY GOD HE'S DONE IT AGAIN! And you jump and scream and make sounds that aren't appropriate for public places. That's kind of what it would be like.
Athanasiou had 2 goals and an assist, Larkin had a goal and 2 assists, Nosek had 2 assists, Svechnikov a goal, Russo a goal, Saarijarvi an assist and the Wings have a chance to win the Matthew Wuest Memorial Trophy and be the Tournament Champions for the second time in three years.
Full recap and highlights still to come.