DETROIT – Andreas Athanasiou scored the equalizer in an electrifying game with two minutes left in the regulation. Then he made a slippery pass to Dylan Larkin for the winning goal with 5.1 seconds to play in overtime.
Those are the plays made by those who make the difference. Athanasiou has what it takes to be a creator of differences: elite speed and finishing ability.
So far this season, he has also demonstrated something that he has lacked during his career: constant competitiveness. That's good for the Red Wings moving forward.
"From the first day of camp, I think he has been committed and has done the necessary things to be a good hockey player," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after Friday's 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers at the Little Caesars Arena. "His habits have been very good in practice and he has done a good job for us."
Athanasiou returned after missing four games with a leg injury. He has five goals and eight points in 12 games and said he is confident he can produce with opportunity.
"I know that those possibilities are going to come, so it's just playing hard when I go out and taking advantage of those opportunities," Athanasiou said.
His first big chance against the Rangers came when his build momentum, but he is running out of time. Justin Abdelkader placed the Red Wings on the scoreboard in 1:46 of the third period after New York scored twice in a span of 40 seconds at the end of the second period with Jacob de la Rose serving a minor double for high level.
Athanasiou ran across the ice, received a pass from Frans Nielsen just inside the blue line, flew past a defender who hooked him and put a backhand blow over goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game.
"I had a lot of speed coming in and I knew I had the lane to cut, so I was getting ready to cut and I was hooked a bit," Athanasiou said. "I was lucky enough to get the record back and pretended that Lundqvist was out, I was lucky to get in."
Then, a few seconds after a shoot-out, Athanasiou made a good backhand pass from Kevin Shattenkirk to Larkin, who helped him overcome the comeback, giving the Red Wings (6-8-2) his fifth win in the last six games.
"There was not much time left and (Mike Green) came back for the record and it was bouncing," Larkin said. "A bit of a wrong pass, but Andreas did a great job to bring it down, after I got it down, I saw the road to the net and I knew I was going to get it, so I just tried to put myself on the other side of the net and he knew Lundqvist, it was hard for him to slip in. It was all AA, it was a great play that brought the record and a great pass, I just had to tap there. "
Athanasiou said: "Every time you have two players who can really accelerate the pace at a high speed, it's definitely a good feeling to be out there with someone who is going to be in a great hurry with you. It's fun to play with." . "
That's what those who make the difference do, Blashill said. Larkin has established himself as one of those players with his level of constant competition, an engine that does not stop.
Can Athanasiou do the same? I'm sure he has the ability.
"His first 3 to 4 years here, and since I met him, my first development camp with him, I could see that speed and ability to play," said Larkin. "I think with experience, he's now a player and he's appearing in great moments and he's winning battles for us, he's a key player here."