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Trending: Red Wings blank Devils, 4-0

Athanasiou joins Larkin in the 30-goal club; Chelios makes his NHL debut

by Arthur J. Regner and Dana Wakiji @ArthurJRegner and @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- Don't look now, but the Detroit Red Wings are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

As incredible as that may sound, with their 4-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit won for the sixth time in its last seven games and is currently riding a four-game winning streak, which matches its longest winning streak of the season.

From Nov. 6-13, the Red Wings strung four victories together, but couldn't build upon the streak's momentum to carry them towards a legitimate run at a playoff berth.

This current streak is being fueled by the Wings' young corps of players, a couple of college free agents and several Grand Rapids Griffins, which Detroit hopes is a good sign for next season.

Danny DeKeyser, Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi (empty net) and Andreas Athanasiou scored for the Red Wings.

Goaltenders Jonathan Bernier and Jimmy Howard combined to stop all 28 shots the Devils fired on net.

Bernier received the nod in goal but suffered an upper-body injury sometime during the second period and was replaced by Howard to begin the third period.

Bernier's status is unknown.

With the victory, the Red Wings improved to 30-38-10 and have reached the 70-point plateau this season. New Jersey fell to 29-40-9 and now trail the Wings by three points for the 28th overall spot in the NHL standings.

Detroit has an off day Saturday and will play Sunday night when it hosts its Atlantic Division rival, the Boston Bruins.

The Devils will play their second of back-to-back games on Saturday when they host the St. Louis Blues.

1. Andreas Athanasiou: This season, Athanasiou has showcased his enormous skill set on a consistent basis. For the last few campaigns, he believed he should have more ice time to reach his full potential. However, the Wings have always maintained ice time is earned, not just handed out. So there was a bit of a stalemate until this season. From training camp on, Athanasiou has been a model player, drawing praise from the Wings' coaching staff. Against the Devils, Athanasiou notched his 30th goal and his 50th point of the season at 18:33 of the third period, beating New Jersey goalie Mackenzie Blackwood with a snap shot high on the glove side. Athanasiou is the second Red Wings player to hit the 30-goal mark this season. Larkin netted his 30th in Thursday's 5-4 overtime victory over the Sabres in Buffalo. Athanasiou has played center over the last dozen games and has adapted well to what he considers his natural position. If he continues to develop at center, the Wings could have a formidable 1-2 punch with him and Larkin up the middle for many years to come.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 30th goal for @AndreasA86 & tonight's @Xfinity Play of the Game. 🤩

Quotable: "I think it's definitely a good feeling for sure (scoring 30 goals). Obviously happy we got the win tonight. That's definitely the cherry on top for sure. Everyone's just really trying to play together, play some fun hockey. We're not where we want to be in the standings but I think everyone's just trying to make steps forward for next year. Just build yourself as a player and grow. I think lately, we've been doing a good job of that and just playing some fun hockey as a team. As a player, when you go into a new position (playing center), it takes a little bit to get used to and comfortable in that spot. But I think every game and every shift, you get a little more comfortable in the face-off circle, in the D-zone. I think every game, you're going to get better for sure." - Athanasiou

Quotable II: "It's great for their confidence, it's good for the organization, it's been 10 years. It's a mark that you don't want to get to once, you want to keep building and get there again, so there's lots of hard work ahead of each one of them (Athanasiou and Larkin). The biggest thing is we got to keep getting better and those guys got to keep building and it can be a brighter future if we keep getting better. We just got to keep that focus. The mark of 30 for those two guys is excellent. I think the fact that Bert and Mo (Anthony Mantha) have pushed and they're going to get in the 20-ish range, both. I think if Mo had been healthy he'd be in that 30 range, potentially, so you got to score in this league. They've done a real good job of helping push that." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill             

2. Dylan Larkin: When Larkin scored 23 goals his rookie season, expectations grew for the young forward. But there were growing pains along the way, especially as Larkin adjusted to being a full-time center playing a two-way game. But those goal-scoring abilities -- and the accompanying celebrations -- never left Larkin. On Thursday, Larkin became the first player in a decade to record 30 goals for the Wings, scoring two in the 5-4 overtime victory in Buffalo. Larkin had already extended his point streak to four games with his assist on DeKeyser's goal in the first period. But at 2:12 of the second, Larkin was in the low slot and fired the puck past Blackwood for a 2-0 Detroit lead. Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha assisted. In 12 career games against the Devils, Larkin has six goals and seven assists. Larkin has four goals and two assists during his four-game streak. Larkin, who had a season-high 12 shots in Buffalo, had 24 shifts for 21:45, a team-high eight shots, one giveaway, was 9-of-13 in face-offs and was plus-3.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Larkin, Bertuzzi, Mantha . A thing of beauty. #LGRW

Quotable: "I think we're playing hard. We're not giving up on the season, even though it seems like . . . I guess you could look at it as meaningless hockey and meaningless games here down the stretch. But we've called up a lot of players and everyone in here is playing for something and everyone is playing hard. Everyone wants to come to training camp next year and have a role. You hear things that people are coming up from junior or the American League and you want to have your job, you want to have a bigger role next year so you can have an impact on the team and not be in this position and be a playoff team next season. Guys are playing for something, we're playing hard. There's been a loose atmosphere in here and it's helped our team. There's a lot of young guys. We're feeling relaxed and we're clicking. It's been definitely more fun down the stretch here winning. Guys are playing something and I hope they're showing management that they want to be here next year." - Larkin

Quotable II: "Yeah, that's definitely something we talk about. I think me and him (Larkin) are doing a good job right now in the center position. We just gotta keep growing as a player." - Athanasiou

3. Danny DeKeyser: Larkin, fresh off scoring his 29th and 30th goals in Buffalo Thursday night, spotted DeKeyser as the defenseman took off toward the net and delivered the puck in a perfect spot for DeKeyser to redirect it at 13:38 of the first. It was DeKeyser's fifth goal of the season. DeKeyser also got the second assist on Athanasiou's 30th goal of the season, giving the defenseman 20 points, tying the point total he had in 2015-16. It's eight more points than he had in each of the previous two seasons. It was also DeKeyser's third multi-point game of the season. DeKeyser finished with 27 shifts for a team-high 22:21, had one shot, a blocked shot and was plus-3, making him plus-1 for the season.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Danny DK getting us on the board in the first. #LGRW @DTE_Energy | #NJDvsDET

Quotable: "I saw he was going back there. He knew the puck was coming. Bert (Bertuzzi) did a great job of finding me when I was open and DK drove the next hard and made a great finish as well." - Larkin

Quotable II: "I'll continue to say what I've said. I think he's been excellent. He's defended great, he's moved the puck out of our end, I think he's made a ton of really good outlet passes up the middle of the ice under pressure that not many guys can do and he's adding some more offense. Again, it's hard to add lots of offense when you're not on the power play but he's adding it 5-on-5. I think he's had an excellent year, I really do. I think he's been harder, I think he's been stronger, I think he's defended well and I think he's a D-man that every team in the league would want." - Blashill

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We're not giving up on the season. You could look at it as meaningless hockey and meaningless games here down the stretch, but everyone in here is playing for something."@CocaCola | #LGRW

4 Jake Chelios: At this point of the season, with the Wings depleted by illness and injuries, they have been able to reward some of the players in the organization with call-ups to Detroit. One of those players, defenseman Jake Chelios, made his NHL debut at the age of 28 Friday night. In 59 games with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins this season, Chelios had one goal and 13 assists, tied for third among Griffins defensemen in scoring, and was second on the Griffins at plus-17. Chelios, with dad Chris in attendance, played 20 shifts for 17:11, had one shot, two hits, one blocked shot and was plus-1. Jake and Chris Chelios are the sixth father-son combination in Red Wings history, joining Sid and Gerry Abel, Adam and Andy Brown, Bill and Peter Dineen, Gordie and Mark Howe and Jim Peters Sr. and Jr. With Chelios making his debut, the Wings tie the Devils with nine players making their NHL debuts this season. It is the most players the Wings have had make their NHL debut since nine did it in 2013-14.

Quotable: "I'm nervous. I got goose bumps right now just seeing him out there on the ice in the Red Wings uniform. It was great. Good start. Like I said, I'm as nervous right now as when I played. At least he's smiling. I never smiled. I remember I was scared when I started. I think the biggest thing, I didn't want to overkill him with advice, I just said have fun. The thing is he's smiling in warmups and having a good time and then got knocked in the head a couple times by that kid (Miles Wood) and still come out smiling, that's a good sign. You're lucky to get a game or two in. There's a lot of guys that are just as good and never get the opportunity so hopefully he makes the best of it." - Chris Chelios to FOX Sports Detroit

Tweet from @FOXSportsDet: Chris Chelios stopped by to chat with Ken & Mickey during the first intermission of his son Jake's NHL debut. #LGRW @DetroitRedWings

Quotable II: "I certainly recognize how special it is. He's put lots of years in. For him to get the opportunity now, it's deserved. I think he deserves the opportunity. He's played very well, not only this year but his previous years in the American League, although that wasn't in our organization. I know he played very well there in that stretch. Jake's been around the game in a lot of situations. He wasn't fazed by the moment at all. He didn't play on his heels at all, he played on his toes and he did a really good job. He's a pretty cool customer. At times, he can come across as easygoing, which I think he has an easygoingness to him, but he's super competitive and very, very smart. So I thought he handled himself very well." - Blashill

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