"We wanted to add a little more identity to our hockey team," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We're not the biggest team. We think we need to be a speed, transition team, certainly a hard-working team. So Double-A gives us a ton of speed, he's got world-class speed, he's right up there with (Dylan) Larkin and (Darren) Helm, as fast as anybody I'd bet in the league."
Athanasiou played six games with the Wings from Nov. 8-18, scoring one goal -- the game-winner and only goal in a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Nov. 10.
Athanasiou will center Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.
Blashill has also reunited Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They will play with Justin Abdelkader.
The New York Islanders welcome back defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who missed 11 games with an upper-body injury.
"I think it's a boost," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He hasn't played in a while so he's going to get in there, play a lot of minutes. For me, it's more his leadership role, what he brings to the room before the game, in between periods. I think the guys will rally around him."
Boychuk will pair with Nick Leddy.
OPPONENT TO WATCH: In 10 games against the Wings, Islanders center John Tavares has three goals and 10 assists.
The Wings talked about hitting the net with more shots but that wasn't happening much in the first period.
Through the first 12 minutes, the Wings managed just two shots on goal.
The Wings also took the first penalty of the game when Tomas Tatar was called for cross-checking Travis Hamonic at 9:12.
The penalty killers did not allow the Islanders a shot during their man-advantage.
But who needs a lot of shots when you make them count?
Gustav Nyquist kept the puck in the offensive zone, took it along the right boards and found Tomas Jurco in the right circle, where Jurco beat Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak at 14:25.
With the two teams playing 4-on-4, Pavel Datsyuk found a streaking Dylan Larkin, who passed from the right circle to Kyle Quincey, who put the puck over Halak at 18:03.
RED WINGS 2, ISLANDERS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Tomas Jurco (3), Gustav Nyquist, 14:25. 2. DET, Kyle Quincey (2), Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, 18:03.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Tomas Tatar, cross-checking, 9:12. 2. NYI, minor, Brock Nelson, roughing, 17:46. 3. DET, minor, roughing, Mike Green, 17:46. 4. DET, minor, Danny DeKeyser, hooking, 18:45.
SHOTS: Detroit 5, New York Islanders 10.
Blashill juggled the lines a little bit, putting Jurco with Brad Richards and Larkin and shifting Darren Helm to the line with Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening.
Nick Leddy's shot went off of Quincey and ended up on top of the net at 5:57 but did not go in before Mrazek froze it there.
Then the Islanders found themselves in penalty trouble.
Calvin de Haan was called for holding at 6:36 and Johnny Boychuk for tripping at 7:13, giving the Wings 1:23 with the two-man advantage.
Mike Green, the player that Boychuk tripped, quickly made the Islanders pay.
Green stepped into the mid-slot and scored on a pass from Richards at 7:32. Datsyuk got the second assist, his second of the game.
At 10:32, Athanasiou's shot bounced off of Halak and Tatar, who went to the net, was there to backhand the rebound home. Nyquist got the second assist.
The assist for Athanasiou was his first NHL helper.
After allowing four goals on 13 shots, Halak was removed in favor of Jean-Francois Berube.
Jurco returned to the line with Sheahan and Glendening toward the end of the period.
RED WINGS 4, ISLANDERS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, PPG: Mike Green (4), Brad Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, 7:32.
PENALTIES: 1. NYI, minor, Calvin de Haan, holding, 6:36. 2. NYI, minor, Johnny Boychuk, tripping, 7:13. 3. DET, minor, Riley Sheahan, tripping, 11:50.
SHOTS: Detroit 12 (17), New York Islanders 9 (19).
What appeared to be a nice mid-afternoon game ended up in a lengthy delay before the start of the third as the Zamboni caught the plug that sits in the goalpost peg hole and dragged it to the blue line, creating a long gash in the ice.
Intermission was not long enough to repair the damage as the ice crew and Zamboni worked overtime.
Both captains, Zetterberg and Tavares, came out twice to inspect the ice.
The referee announced that the teams would switch sides at the 10-minute mark to account for any ice disparity.
Finally, after a 36-minute delay, the teams resumed play.
Dylan Larkin scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season at 2:56 when he beat Berube glove-side. Richards and Tatar had the assists.
With his 18th goal, Larkin moved into a tie with Chicago's Artemi Panarin for the rookie lead in goals.
It also marked Larkin's first back-to-back multi-point games. Larkin had two goals at Florida and has a goal and an assist in this game.
Brendan Smith was called for tripping at 3:18 and the Islanders capitalized at 4:07 when Tavares' shot from the right circle beat Mrazek. Kyle Okposo and Leddy got the assists.
RED WINGS 5, ISLANDERS 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Dylan Larkin (18), Brad Richards, Tomas Tatar, 2:56. 2. NYI, PPG, John Tavares (18), Kyle Okposo, Nick Leddy, 4:07.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, minor, Brendan Smith, tripping, 3:18. 2. NYI, minor, Matt Martin, boarding, 10:10.
SHOTS: Detroit 3 (20), New York Islanders 10 (29).