DETROIT (AP) — Andreas Athanasiou celebrated his second goal by leaping off the ice to bump chests and hug Tyler Bertuzzi.
“He gets pretty excited when we score, so I thought I’d get excited with him,” Athanasiou said after scoring twice to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the New York Islanders 2-1. “He was pretty hype and we got the lead, so it definitely was a good feeling for all of us.”
Yes, the Red Wings believes they’re still playing for something even though they will be relegated to watching the playoffs for a third straight season.
Detroit had lost 12 of 13 to improve its chances of having the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft this summer.
While some fans of the franchise may want a lot of losses down the stretch to have a better shot at selecting American star Jack Hughes, the players simply want to win any chance they get.
“It’s why we play hockey,” Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier said. “All the guys in this room are winners.”
For the first time in more than a month, Bernier won a game after stopping 41 shots.
“If Bernier doesn’t have that night, we probably win 4-1,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “But they got a fortunate goal and we probably have 25 scoring chances and couldn’t bury them.”
New York captain Anders Lee had a tying goal on a shot from the slot midway through the first period and Thomas Greiss had 20 saves.
The Islanders, vying for postseason positioning with Metropolitan Division-leading Washington and Pittsburgh, had won two straight and four of the previous five games.
“I don’t see this as a setback,” New York defenseman Thomas Hickey said.
On his first of two goals early in the game, Athanasiou got a break. He centered a pass that went off the left leg of Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock and into the net.
There was much more skill on display for his second goal.
Athanasiou put Detroit ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. He tapped the puck past Greiss off Danny DeKeyser’s slap pass from the top of the right circle to the left side of the net.
“As he got the puck, he kind of looked to the net and saw me sneak around the net and saw me all alone,” Athanasiou said. “We made a little eye contact and then he put it right on my tape.”
NOTES: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin played after missing five games with a neck injury. … .. New York scratched C Casey Cizikas (lower body) and D Johnny Boychuk (upper body) with injuries. … Athanasiou, who has a career-high 27 goals, scored two goals in a game for the sixth time this season. … Lee has a team-high 26 goals, including one in three straight games.
Islanders: play at Minnesota on Sunday.
Red Wings: start five-game road trip Tuesday against New York Rangers.
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