The 25-year-old Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha has spent the past few seasons threatening to become a truly great goalscorer, and on Sunday night against the Stars, he announced himself with a spectacular performance befitting his high expectations. Mantha has been a solid 20-goal guy for the Wings over the past couple of seasons, but a hot streak at the end of last season and a brilliant showing at the World Championship in May teased a higher level. It only took two regular season games for him to reach it.
Mantha followed up on a three-point night in the team’s season-opening win against the Predators by accomplishing something no Red Wing has done since Johan Franzen scored five goals on the Senators in 2011. Mantha went beyond a hat trick in an electrifying showcase of his abilities, sending puck after puck past the goal line until his team had enough to take home two points. In a 4–3 win against the Dallas Stars, Mantha scored all four of Detroit’s goals; and every single one was legit.
On a power play early in the second period, he got a one-timer by Anton Khudobin to cut the Stars’ lead in half. Ten minutes later, he entered the offensive zone with the puck and gracefully skated around Esa Lindell and on net to tie the game. He secured the natural hatty with a rebound goal early in the third to take the lead. After the Stars tied the game, he lit the crowd on fire with under a minute to play by firing a laser off the face-off and into the net for the game-winner.
“When he’s hot, he’s one of the best in the world,” said his linemate Dylan Larkin. “You’re seeing that and he’s fun to play with.”
Those first three words are key. Mantha has flashed his considerable talent as a scorer plenty of times before—this is actually his second hat trick in his past six NHL games, dating back to last year. But he’s also suffered through cold streaks and poor decision-making that has limited his full impact. There’s no denying that Mantha, at full strength, can be a dominant part of the still-rebuilding Red Wings offense. And with restricted free agency looming next summer as motivation, maybe this is the year that Mantha just never stops scoring.