GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Detroit Red Wings prospect Teemu Pulkkinen is happy to get his NHL first goal under his belt. However, the 23-year-old Finn already is thinking about his next NHL goal.
“It’s good to get the first one,” Pulkkinen said after the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 5-1 win against the Utica Comets on Friday. “Everybody was looking for that — now I got it. But I want more. One is not enough, so just keep practicing and working hard.”
Pulkkinen was sent back to Grand Rapids so he could play in some more games as well as the AHL All-Star Game on Monday. Pulkkinen and the rest of the Griffins struggled on Wednesday against the Chicago Wolves in a 4-2 loss, but the team bounced back against Utica, the second-place team in the Western Conference. Pulkkinen had two assists and seven shots on goal to help his team snap a four-game losing streak.
[tweetthis]Teemu Pulkkinen: “I want more (goals). One is not enough.”[/tweetthis]
On Wednesday, Pulkkinen snapped an eight-game scoring streak he had while playing with the Griffins that tied a franchise record. As far as scoring with the Red Wings goes, he said scoring the first one took the pressure off of him to get more.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I had a couple of chances before that — A couple of posts and good chances I didn’t score. It was good to get the first one and now just move on.”
Mitch Callahan was happy to see Pulkkinen on the other wing during the past two games. Callahan benefited with a goal Friday, a buzzer-beating goal that came at the end of the second period to put the Griffins up 2-1.
“He’s a deadly threat, no question about it,” Callahan said of Pulkkinen. “He’s been gone, now since he’s here, I think it gives our line a little bit more of a spark knowing how good of a player he is.”
The rest of Pulkkinen’s Red Wings teammates are enjoying their break during All-Star weekend since none were named All-Stars after Jimmy Howard had to pull out due to injury. However, Pulkkinen said he enjoys the opportunity to keep playing hockey.
“I like to play hockey,” he said. “I want to play, but sometimes, it’s good to take a break. Right now, my body feels good, so it’s good to play. Some point in the season, you might be a little bit tired, but you just need to push hard, and when you work hard off the ice, your body feels good on the ice.”
The AHL Skills Competition is Sunday and the All-Star Game is Monday. Pulkkinen said he is looking forward to the overall experience of the two days.
“I think it’s going to be a nice experience and go there and play the game and see some other players there,” he said. “Just going to be a good experience for me.”
Pat Nagle Gets First AHL Win
With Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum both in Detroit replacing injured goalies Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, the Griffins had to call up Jared Coreau from the ECHL and sign Pat Nagle to a professional tryout.
On Friday, Nagle, a Bloomfield, Michigan, native, picked up his first AHL win.
“It was awesome,” he said. “The guys played great for me, a ton of blocked shots, took away the lanes, cleared the rebounds. So, it was a lot of fun.
“They did all of the little things tonight. Just had me take care of the first save, from there we were getting it out and getting it covered, so it was great.”
Against Utica on Friday, Nagle made 29 saves, surrendering just one goal. Utica got a fortunate bounce on the one goal it did score. Nicklas Jensen shot the puck toward Nagle, but it hit teammate Dustin Jeffrey in the chest and ricocheted in the net. The officials reviewed the play to make sure there was no high stick, but it was deemed a good goal.
On Jan. 12, Nagle signed the tryout with the Griffins. He has a 17-4-1 record with a 2.42 GAA and .910 save percentage in 22 games with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets this season. He also appeared in one game for the AHL’s Rochester Americans, in which he made 39 saves on 42 shots in a 4-0 loss to the Adirondack Flames.
Nagle played college hockey at Ferris State from 2007-11, where he had a 45-42-11 record with a 2.32 GAA and .916 save percentage. Coming out of college, Nagle went undrafted but signed a two-year entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Callahan said Nagle looked like a seasoned veteran.
“He looked like a regular AHLer to me,” he said. “He was awesome. He helped us a lot tonight. For him to get his first win, that’s awesome for him, kudos to him, and we’ll see if he gets any more games with us.”
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said he liked Nagle’s play Friday.
“I thought he played really well,” he said. “He made a glove save on the PK. Like I said earlier, he made the two breakaway saves early in the game. That totally changed the complexion of the game.
“I thought he played very well.”
Nagle said his Griffins teammates have made it easier for him to get comfortable and play for a new team.
“You just want to come in and give them a chance to win,” he said. “This is a great group, made me feel welcome from Day 1, and that makes things a lot easier getting comfortable right away.”
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.