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Trending: Wings stay patient, defeat Wild 3-2 in OT

Jimmy Howard stands tall on his birthday; Andreas Athanasiou nets OT winner

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT -- Each Red Wings player has stressed how important it is for the team to remain competitive and poised as they continue to play out the string of the regular season.

Despite being all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt, the Wings have continued to play with dignity and pride.

Detroit's effort against the playoff-bound Minnesota Wild Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena saw the Wings come back from a one-goal deficit twice to outlast the Wild in a 3-2 overtime victory.

1. Jimmy Howard: Howard celebrated his 33rd birthday on Sunday while playing a flawless hockey game. Entering Sunday's game, Howard's record was 8-8-1, with a 1.91 goals-against average and a save percentage of .935. Howard made 24 saves on Sunday and had a save percentage of .923, but it was the timing of his saves, including when he made several key stops in the final minute of the third period and in overtime, stopping Eric Staal from point-blank range.

Quotable: "We gave up too many chances there late. A big part of winning in this league is goaltending, a big part of winning is specialty teams. Both were a huge factor in tonight's win. I thought Jimmy was solid all game. I didn't think we gave up a whole lot all game but he was solid, didn't make the game any harder than it had to be and then late he made the saves at big moments and that's what you need to do to win in the league." -- Wings coach Jeff Blashill

2. Tomas Tatar: Tatar scored his 22nd goal of the season on the power play early in the third period to tie the game at 2. In his last 17 games, Tatar has 14 points and his 22 goals is the second most of his career. He scored 29 during the 2014-15 campaign. Blashill has repeatedly said that Tatar has had chances all season, but the puck just wasn't finding the back of the net. It is clear that Tatar has regained his scoring touch. Tatar was tied with Gustav Nyquist for the team lead in shots with three.

Quotable: "It was a power-play goal. It gave us a lift for sure. It was a goal and a tie. Like I said, it was a big goal and we played really good until the end of the game. It's really nice to score a power-play goal. It's nice to see the puck go in, that's for sure." - Tatar

3. Andreas Athanasiou: Athanasiou scored the game winner at the 1:52 mark of overtime on a clean breakaway right after Howard made a terrific stop at the other end of the ice on Erik Haula. It was his 17th goal of the year, his second game-winner of the season and it ignited the Joe Louis Arena crowd. Athanasiou is second to Tatar on the team in goals.

Quotable: "There's no question he's dangerous. He's an excellent breakaway guy. He's fast and he's got unreal quick hands at that full speed. It's hard to defend. And that's his best move for sure, that little move to the forehand, so that was great." -- Blashill

Quotable II: "He can fly. I'm sure he was surprised because I was surprised when (Devan) Dubnyk went down into the two-pad stack there, he made a slick play. I see it every single day in practice how slick he is with the puck, especially on breakaways." -- Howard

Quotable III: "I kind of just hopped on the ice there. I saw them load up for the shot and Howie made a nice save, played it nicely and Gus (Nyquist) made a great pass. I definitely like the open ice. It definitely feels good to see all that open room and have a chance to wind it up. He (Dubnyk) kind of dove at me so I picked my head up and saw him so I just had to step around him." -- Athanasiou

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