|(Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- After 15 winless years at the NHL prospects tournament, the Red Wings finally took care of business tonight, defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 4-2.
This year’s first-round pick, Anthony Mantha, scored back-to-back power play goals in a matter of two minutes to give the Red Wings an early 2-0 lead.
With 1:18 left in the first period, Mantha smacked home a loose puck in front of the net to give the Red Wings an early 1-0 lead; then just 26 seconds after the break, Mantha struck again, deflecting in Xavier Ouellet’s shot from the point in a way that would make Tomas Holmstrom proud.
“I was up front on both, just kind of battled for the first one,” said Mantha. “On the second one, Ouellet just shot the puck for a tip and I managed to tip it.”
In the third, things got interesting in a hurry. Buffalo cut it to 2-1 about five minutes into the third when Frederick Roy ripped one top shelf past Jared Coreau, but Zach Nastasiuk’s beauty of a shot from the slot at 10:01 gave the Wings some breathing room.
After Buffalo’s Peter Traynor scored in a scramble with 6:40 to go, the Wings buckled down defensively until Tomas Jurco put the game on ice with an empty-netter at 19:35.
“It was hard for us, and I think we played great even though we were tired,” said Tomas Jurco. “Each one of us is tired, so to play four games in five days and win it is great.”
The Wings dominated the game for most of the night, dictating the play at both ends of the ice and creating scoring chances throughout the game, outshooting Buffalo, 40-25.
The win capped off an amazing week for the Red Wings prospects, who ran the table in Traverse City, going 4-0 and winning each game by at least two goals.
While it’s always nice to win, the players realize that there is a bigger picture of growing and learning to become a professional, both on an off the ice.
“I learned a lot over here with the coaching staff,” said Mantha. “It’s been a great week and I’m finding out what it takes to be a pro and go to the next level.”