TRAVERSE CITY — The Detroit Red Wings prospects are taking a well deserved break today.
The Wings won the eight-team NHL Prospects Tournament for the first time in the 15-year history of the event at Centre ICE, downing the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 Monday night.
Anthony Mantha scored two goals and assisted on a third for the Wings, who finished 4-0. Zach Nastasiuk and Tomas Jurco also tallied.
Jurco said coach Jeff Blashill reminded the players of Detroit’s drought in the tournament before play began last Thursday.
Jurco said the Wings gained confidence with each win.
“As you go through the tournament you see how good you are and how big of a chance you have to win it,” the forward said. “Before (Monday night’s) game we were really pumped. We wanted to win it really bad.”
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet assisted on the first three goals.
“As a team we played a good game,” he said. “That’s how we got that win. We played together. Everybody pushed in the same direction.”
Detroit never trailed in the championship game after converting on its first two power plays. Mantha netted both goals with the man advantage. The team’s No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft scored in front of the net with under two minutes to play in the first period. Then, with just a minute gone in the second period, he redirected a shot past Buffalo goalie Nathan Lieuwen.
It was Mantha’s third goal in two nights. He had an empty-netter in Sunday’s clash with the St. Louis Blues.
Buffalo pulled to within a goal with 16:37 left in the third period on a Frederick Roy goal. The Wings answered with 9:59 to go when Nastasiuk scored.
The Sabres, though, kept the pressure on with a Peter Trainor goal with 6:40 to play. It stayed that way until Jurco’s empty-netter with 25.8 seconds remaining.
Jared Coreau had a solid game in goal for the Wings, stopping 23 shots. The former Northern Michigan University netminder, who grew up near Ottawa and idolized Red Wings free agent signee Daniel Alfredsson, was 2-0 in the tournament.
Coreau praised the Wings defense.
“I think I only faced 45 shots in two games,” he said.
The Wings, meanwhile, spread the scoring out offensively throughout the week.
“Each line was playing great,” Jurco said. “It wasn’t like two lines were good and two lines were OK. Each line had some chances. It’s only good for the organization to have such good prospects.”
Defensively, the Wings allowed just six goals in the four games.
Detroit put 40 shots on Lieuwen on Monday.
“Everybody was on the same page, which is hard to do with just a couple practices together,” Jurco said.
The Wings played four games in five nights.
“It was pretty intense, just another step to what’s coming,” Ouellet said. “It’s going to get harder and harder every day. It was a good experience.”
“When I came here I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I knew it would be good hockey. It was great hockey.”
The prospects will stay in town for the Red Wings training camp, which opens Thursday.