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Red Wings center Andreas Athanasiou is checked by Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Jaros on Feb. 14, 2019 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Photo11: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Andreas Athanasiou set off his skill set and Jimmy Howard had a busy night as he hit a milestone.

the Detroit Red Wings to bank a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators despite being outplayed.

Athanasiou had first-time goals before and after Brady Tkachuk's marker to put the Wings up 2-1. Dylan Larkin drew an assist to earn 30 on the season and a point in nine of his last 11 games.

Matt Duchene and Frans Nielsen traded goals in the second period, but the Senators were the better team from the second period through much of the third period. Howard faced 41 shots.

It was the last meeting of the season between the two draft-lottery teams, but a spirited one. Jonathan Ericsson and Brady Tkachuk fought in the first period, Niklas Kronwall leveled Colin White in the third, leading to a little melee along the boards, and Michael Rasmussen and Dylan Demelo exchanged shoves after a scramble by Detroit's net.

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The Red Wings' Andreas Athanasiou scores on a penalty shot in the first period on Feb. 14, 2019 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Photo11: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Athanasiou in action

After going without a goal since Jan. 8 despite creating chances every game, Athanasiou is finding the back of the net again. He scored the game-winning goal Tuesday at Nashville, and puts the Wings ahead 1-0 in the first period Thursday when he slipped in on a breakaway and converted on a backhand. Athanasiou scored again at 17:42 on a penalty shot awarded after he was hauled down on a breakaway by Christian Jaros. With that, Athanasiou reached his first career 20-goal season.

Athanasiou's second goal was his second successful penalty shot of the season; he has three of the wings' four.

Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene scores against Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard during on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Photo11: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Howard joins 500 club

Howard joined Terry Sawchuk and Chris Osgood in reaching 500 career games with the Wings. Howard, who made 19 saves in the first period at Nashville, made 15 in the second period Thursday as the Senators dictated play. The Wings could not even grab momentum when they were handed a power play after Rudolfs Balcers sent the puck over the glass – neither unit was able to set up, and Howard was the only goalie who had to make a save during the stretch. When Matt Duchene scored at 13:39, roofing the puck on a breakaway, the Wings had just three shots on. Nielsen restored the lead when he buried Darren Helm's pass at 17:06.

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Red Wings center Dylan Larkin skates against the Ottawa Senators duringon Feb. 14, 2019 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Photo11: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Cholowski sits again

Rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski, who is a team-worst minus-20, was a healthy scratch for a second straight game. Coach Jeff Blashill said before the game that one of the challenges for Cholowski to get better is to learn "how to get better on the defensive side of the puck." "It's a hard league to outscore your mistakes," Blashill added "One of his weaknesses is that times he is too calm. It's a hard thing at times to learn. ”

Blashill repeated that he believes Cholowski, 19, will" be a really good player in this league. "

If it looks like Cholowski will sit for a while, Blashill said he might be sent to Grand Rapids to work on his game, similar to what the Wings did with rookie Filip Hronek

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Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames . Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.