The Wings improved to 3-0 in the Prospect Tournament when they beat the Dallas Stars in climactic fashion Monday night. With a perfect record they'll advance to play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup Championship game Tuesday night at 7PM.
Here are the final standings prior to Tuesday's final games.
72 Andreas Athanasiou - 71 Dylan Larkin - 39 Anthony Mantha
59 Tyler Bertuzzi - 83 Tomas Nosek - 37 Evgeny Svechnikov
63 Adam Marsh - 78 Dominic Turgeon - 62 Zach Nastasiuk
82 Evan Polei - 80 Conor McGlynn - 54 Nick Betz
75 Ty Stanton - 28 Vili Saarijarvi
53 Joe Hicketts - 51 Robbie Russo
75 Andrew Prochno- 58 Justin Lemcke
I already wrote up a synopsis of the main events in my gif recap so I won't rehash that part of the game. On numerous occasion Dylan Larkin has described this tournament as being like AHL playoff games, and the tilt between Detroit and Dallas certainly had the feel, suspense, and intensity of a playoff game. The Wings scored first and it was a lot of back and forth play in the first half of the game, but Dallas needed to win in regulation to avoid a 5th or 6th place finish and they cranked up the intensity and push like their tournament lives depended on it. When they got a 2 goal lead the Wings bench got quiet and it felt in the arena like things could quickly get out of control for them. As coach Nelson put it after the game, the team didn't wilt when they went down 4-2. Instead, the wings best players, the ones we all look to for leadership and direction, stepped up big time and Andreas Athanasiou was a bigger star than the Stars. The Wings started their comeback with a Robbie Russo power play goal from the blue line that somehow found the back of the net, thank you Dylan Larkin for the set up. Down by a goal with 4 and a half minutes to go, Andreas Athanasiou stole the show and did things took my words away and made me scream like a girl (as you'll hear in the video). AA was on all night long, using his speed and getting in behind the Stars skaters, I think he had at least 5 breakaways or scoring chances by getting in behind the Dallas defense. He scored the game tying goal when Anthony Mantha flipped him the puck (something his teammates were doing all night to spring him), AA and Larkin streaked to the net, crossed paths in the crease, Larkin touched the puck, gave it back to AA on top of the goalie, and he beat the goalie so hard it should be illegal. Hoo boy was the Wings bench and the entire arena charged up after that goal. When you get something you really like, you want more and we all wanted more, so AA obliged. Two minutes later Tomas Nosek has the puck at the wings blue line, flips it ahead to Athanasiou at center ice, AA takes it to the net with both Dallas defenders on his heels, gets taken down and goes sliding into the boards. For just a split second I couldn't even see if he got a shot off at all, but then the light came on and there was a joyous sound heard throughout the arena. I don't even know if there were actual words that came out of my mouth, just screaming cheers, laughter and pure joy and elation.
It was almost comical that former Red Wings prospect Mattias Janmark had a goal and 2 assists for the Stars, well guess what? Na na na na boo boo, we win.
For the most part the game was back and forth and both teams played well. The Stars outshot the Wings 30-19 however and once again Jake Paterson was great. He's played all 3 games for the Wings, and has a 2.00 GAA and .929 SV%, has made the most saves of any goalie in the tournament, and only Luke Opika of the St. Louis Blues, who has only played 60 minutes, has better numbers than Patty. This feels like Jake Paterson's coming out party and because he's been so great, he'll get the start in the Championship game as well, how could he not?
The Wings scored 2 power play goals, their first two of the tournament, and their penalty kill was perfect, killing all 4 minor penalties. Their PK is now at 91.67%, second only to the Rangers at 100% and their power play is at 20% and in the middle of the pack.
Tuesday night we'll have a new Tournament Champion and it will be one of the last two tournament winners. I can't stress enough how valuable this entire experience is for these players and I can see growth in some of them already. Bring on the Blue Jackets, and may the best team who happens to be wearing red and white win.