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Larkin shoots for the star

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings and Dylan Larkin will be looking for two big points against Pittsburgh and its captain Sidney Crosby on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Getty Images)

GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Mich. -- There's a famous Wayne Gretzky quote that says, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin has apparently taken those words to heart.

In Thursday night's game, Larkin had six shots, giving him 200 for the season.

Larkin, 19, is only the fifth rookie in franchise history to reach that mark, joining Marcel Dionne, Sergei Fedorov, Reed Larson and Dale McCourt.

He is only the 20th Wing to register 200 shots on goal in the last 29 seasons.

"It's always been a part of my game," Larkin said. "I think it's a sign of generating offense. You have to be in the offensive zone to have shots. I play with great players that find me and put me in good opportunities to shoot the puck. I always try going into a game to have at least four shots. To have a higher chance to score, you've got to be shooting to score."

Larkin has played regularly with Henrik Zetterberg, who is the next closest Wing in shots with 186.

Zetterberg has registered 200 or more shots in a season eight times and 300 or more four times.

Although the Wings usually like their young players to get seasoning in the American Hockey League, Larkin made the team out of training camp and hasn't looked back.

"He’s done a good job," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He’s been given a heck of an opportunity, too, and earned that early and continued to get that and played with really good players. It’s a combination of young guy who’s very talented and who’s driven, likes to shoot the puck and combined with playing with real good players and getting real good opportunity."

KRONWALL EXPECTED TO PLAY: The only Wing that did not practice at Grosse Pointe's University Liggett School Friday afternoon was defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

"We expect him (to play)," Blashill said. "Today was a maintenance day. We expect him to be able to play but we’ll evaluate that tomorrow."

MANTHA AFTERMATH: Anthony Mantha has been overwhelmed with the texts and congratulatory messages he has received since scoring his first NHL goal Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

But Mantha wanted to celebrate with his family and friends who came to the game, including his grandfather, Andre Pronovost, and grandmother Marie-Paul.

"I went out to dinner quickly with them," Mantha said. "They were all pretty excited obviously. We laughed about his little tears and it was just a little gag I think that’s gonna be running now."

Larkin, who went through some of these same firsts early in the season, is getting a kick out of watching his teammate's experiences.

"It is cool to see someone else kind of going through, not all the attention, but a lot of media," Larkin said. "Scoring in his home debut, it is cool so happy for him. It turned out to be a big goal so it was great for him to score."

Mantha intends to get back to everyone, it just might take some time.

"I’ll be honest, I didn’t even reply to all of them right now," Mantha said. "I just wanted to keep the night without my phone last night, so I tried a little bit this morning, a little bit last night so I have a lot of answering to do today."

HERE COMES SIDNEY: Despite their 3-0 setback to the New Jersey Devils Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been on a roll, winning six in a row before then.

Captain Sidney Crosby saw his 12-game point streak end Thursday but had six goals and 14 assists in that span.

"I don’t think it’s any surprise he’s one of the best players in the league," Zetterberg said. "He had a little slow start to the year and a lot of people were worried, but I don’t think a lot of players were worried. Just the overall what he’s doing on the ice is pretty impressive and he does it year after year."

Since Mike Sullivan replaced Mike Johnston as coach Dec. 12, Crosby has 25 goals and 57 points in 43 games.

Crosby is now third in the league in scoring with 76 points, behind Chicago's Patrick Kane (92) and Dallas' Jamie Benn (82).

For kids like Larkin and Mantha, they actually grew up admiring Crosby.

"He was one of my favorite players when I was growing up," Larkin said. "It is cool to play against him and see how strong he is on the puck and how he makes the players around him better. It's fun playing against him."

It will be Mantha's first time facing Crosby and the Penguins.

"He’s an unreal player, obviously," Mantha said. "He’s producing a lot since January or something like that, so he’s always a threat and we just have to play our game and be ready for the game."

Even without Evgeni Malkin, who is out injured, the Penguins are not a one-man team.

Defenseman Kris Letang is third among defensemen in scoring with 55 points, behind Ottawa's Erik Karlsson (75) and San Jose's Brent Burns (66).

"I don't think we can trade chance for chance with these guys," Larkin said. "I think we've got to limit turnovers because they've got a lot of speed and they're dangerous when they get on odd-man rushes. I think we've got to be physical on their D, their D love to jump up and they've got a lot of good skating defensemen so we've got to be ready to skate and get pucks behind their defensemen."

SAARIJARVI TO GRIFFINS: After a tumultuous season with the Flint Firebirds, defenseman Vili Saarijarvi has been assigned to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

With the OHL's Firebirds, Saarijarvi had 12 goals and 31 assists in 59 games.

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