BY MIKE WHITAKER
Detroit – It was a night of firsts at Little Caesars Arena.
Forward Anthony Mantha registered his first career hat trick, while Taro Hirose scored his first career NHL goal en route to a 6-3 Red Wings victory over the visiting Boston Bruins. Tyler Bertuzzi had three assists, while Jimmy Howard made 31 saves. Detroit also got goals from Filip Hronek and Dylan Larkin (empty net).
Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand, and David Backes all scored for the Bruins, who got 27 saves from goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Despite his personal milestone, Mantha focused more on the team as a whole, especially their strong play of late as the regular season nears an end.
“It’s been fun, real fun,” Mantha said. “I think lately as a team we’re just trying to enjoy these last couple of games and it’s paying off on the ice….we’re trying to build chemistry for next year.”
With six points in his first seven NHL games (one goal, five assists), Hirose has make the jump from the NCAA to the NHL seem easy.
“I’ve watched guys go from college to the NHL, and you just never know,” head coach Jeff Blashill said of Hirose. “You’re just not sure how it’s going to translate. (Red Wings director of player development) Shawn Horcoff said to me that he looks the same as he did at Michigan State…he looks to me like he’s an NHL player.”
The win over the Bruins gave the Red Wings their seventh victory in the past 10 games, and while some fans may not be happy about their chances of earning the first overall draft pick this summer decreasing, Blashill isn’t worried about it.
“The first thought I have is that I’d be way more concerned as a fan if our young guys weren’t able to go head to head against the elite players in the NHL,” he explained. “The fact that it’s our young players driving this winning streak should temper some of those concerns, because these are the guys that are going to make an impact sooner than anyone we draft.”
The Red Wings will close out the regular season with a hone-and-home series against the Pittsburgh Penguins before the season finale at home against the Buffalo Sabres.