DETROIT -- It has been a difficult season but the Detroit Red Wings continue to demonstrate their commitment to finishing the season on a good note.
Jimmy Howard made 31 saves to lift the Wings to a 2-0 shutout of the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.
The Red Wings improved to 30-38-11 overall and 16-15-8 at home while the Senators fell to 27-40-11 overall and 11-22-5 on the road.
Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou scored for Detroit.
1. Jimmy Howard : A case can be made that Howard has been the Wings' most valuable player this season. There have been many games where Howard's solid goaltending has given the Wings a chance to win, which is all you can ask of a goaltender. Saturday's 2-0 victory over the Senators was Howard's first shutout of the season and his first shutout since October 22, 2016 when he blanked San Jose, 3-0 at Joe Louis Arena. For the season Howard is 22-27-8 with a goals-against average of 2.81 and save percentage of .910. Howard's career record is 221-151-62 with a 2.48 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and 24 shutouts.
Quotable: "It feels good, it took 59 games, unreal, but at the same time the guys in front of me did a really great job tonight allowing me to see the puck." - Howard
Quotable II: "I thought Jimmy played a phenomenal game. He was very strong. We threw a lot at him. We had a lot of power plays and couldn't really get one to go on him. Some nights, the other goalie can take a game. He played really well and they capitalized on their opportunities that they had." - Senators' goaltender Mike Condon
Quotable III: "Even in this last stretch here where we gave up some goals, I thought he played well in most of those games and he didn't get rewarded, so it was good for him to get the shutout. Jimmy went to work a couple summers ago and it's really paid off for him. It's a good lesson for young guys in the league. He wanted to make sure he was still in the league. He knew he needed to change some different things in his game and he went to work hard, so good for him." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Dylan Larkin: Larkin already leads the team in points with 58 and assists with 45. But he came into Saturday's game with 13 goals, fifth on the team behind Anthony Mantha's 24, Gustav Nyquist's 20, Frans Nielsen's 16 and Andreas Athanasiou's 15. But Larkin has been on a bit of a goal-scoring tear of late. At 4:10 of the second period, he and Mantha had a 2-on-1 and Mantha found him at the left side of the net for a perfect tap-in as Ottawa goaltender Mike Condon had moved to Mantha's side. It was Larkin's 14th goal of the season and fifth in the last seven games. Nick Jensen got the second assist. Larkin extended his point streak to three games, in which he has two goals and three assists. He has nine points in his last seven games. Larkin played 20:05, more than any other forward, had a team-high five shots and was 8-of-13 in face-offs.
Quotable: "I've been getting chances all year, and I've had a ton of shots, but they haven't been going in. Just getting to the net more has been an emphasis for myself, and trying to get myself open and not hide out, or go to the corner to get the puck. Definitely getting open and getting to the net." - Larkin
Quotable II: "One thing for sure, I saw before the game, Larks had eight points in six games coming into tonight and then tonight another (goal). He's a big part of our team. He went for a stretch where he wasn't scoring. for us to win, we're going to need him, we're going to need Mantha, we need Double-A, we need those guys to score. At one point it was just (Henrik Zetterberg's) line every night. Now we have multiple lines. That's one reason. We've played similar games like the last few games and not won for a long stretch. When you play those games over and over again you're bound to win and now we're winning." - Blashill
3. Andreas Athanasiou: When Athanasiou is on, he is on and he was on Saturday afternoon. Athanasiou was finally rewarded at 4:29 of the third period when he went to the net and picked up the loose puck from Evgeny Svechnikov's shot and buried it top shelf. It was Athanasiou's 16th of the season and second in as many games. The Senators challenged the goal, saying Svechnikov interfered with Condon but after review, the goal stood. Had it been overturned, it would have been the second goal Athanasiou had lost this week. It is the fourth time this season that Athanasiou has scored in back-to-back games. Niklas Kronwall got the second assist, extending his point streak to a season-best three games (1-2-3). Athanasiou was second on the team in shots with four in 17 minutes of ice time.
Quotable: "Like seriously, the ones that have gone on this year against us and with other teams, it's hard to tell so I wasn't really thinking about it. Obviously I wanted it to be a goal and I'm happy that it was but during the time, you're not really sure." - Athanasiou