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Larkin will be a game-time decision

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Teemu Pulkkinen will play tonight against the Senators if Dylan Larkin (illness) isn't able to play. (Photo by Getty Images)

KANATA, OntarioDylan Larkin will be a game-time decision when the Red Wings and Ottawa Senators meet for the fifth and final time in clubs’ season series tonight.

Larkin was feeling ill and did not accompany the team to Canadian Tire Centre for the morning skate.

If Larkin is unavailable, Teemu Pulkkinen will draw into the lineup and likely on the third line with center Andreas Athanasiou and forward Tomas Jurco.

Coach Jeff Blashill said he’ll wait until after pre-game warmups to decide who fills Larkin’s role on the second line with Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar.

Gustav Nquist joined the second line during rushes in Saturday’s morning skate.

The 19-year-old Larkin has played in all but one game in his rookie season. He had an upper-body injury and did not play at Nashville (Dec. 26).

Pulkkinen has been a healthy scratch for the past eight games. He has six goals and six assists in 29 games this season.

“I like him lots as a player,” Blashill said. “We’ve got different players in different roles. There’s certain guys you got to have as penalty killers, got to have guys that bring energy to your team, got to have physicality. I think Teemu is a real good player and I think ultimately he’ll score goals in the NHL. He scored to some degree so far. The more he scores the more he’ll play in that sense. But he’s got to do it in a complete game.

“I got lots of belief in Teemu. I got no problem putting him in here tonight and expecting him to be great tonight.”

Sitting and watching games from the press box has been frustrating, Pulkkinen said, but he’s remained positive.

“Everybody wants to play, so when you’re not playing, you’re not kind of happy,” he said. “This is pro hockey and there’s only a number of guys who can dress and some guys have to sit.

“Just work out hard. Be ready for every day. There’s not much you can do. You can just stay positive and work hard.”

Pulkkinen has gained a reputation for possessing a very hard shot, which was evident Saturday morning as he worked with the second power play unit.

Fortunately, Pulkkinen’s wrist from the point didn’t do more damage to Darren Helm, who was struck in the ankle as he played the net front.

“No it wasn’t too hard of a shot but maybe it hit the right spot somewhere in the leg,” Pulkkinen said. “I don’t know, but he’s fine.”

Pavel Datsyuk
Center  - DET
Goals: 12 | Assists: 23 | Pts: 35
Shots: 115 | +/-: 12
STREAKIN’ PAVEL: Pavel Datsyuk looks to extend the Red Wings’ longest individual point streak this season to eight straight games tonight against the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.

His current streak matches a seven-game point streak from the 2011-12 season when he collected a goal and 10 assists while leading the Red Wings to a 6-1-0 mark.

Datsyuk has had a remarkable boost from being reunited on the Wings’ top line with Henrik Zetterberg. Since then the 37-year-old Datsyuk has six goals and five assists in seven games. Before the reunion, Datsyuk had six goals and 18 assists in the previous 36 games.

With a point tonight, Datsyuk will reach his longest streak since getting a point in 10 straight games during the 2010-11 season. Datsyuk established a personal best in 2007 when he registered five goals and 13 assists during a 12-game point streak from Feb. 24 to March 22.

Dylan Larkin
Goals: 19 | Assists: 20 | Pts: 39
Shots: 157 | +/-: 21
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Larkin snapped a five-game scoring drought with his second-period goal in Thursday’s 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh.

He needs one goal to become the first Red Wings’ rookie to score 20 goals since Henrik Zetterberg did so in 2002-03.

Larkin, who has 19 goals and 20 assists in 57 games, is 11 goals shy of entering an exclusive rookie club of Wings who reached the 30-goal plateau, joining Steve Yzerman (39), Mike Foligno (36), Dale McCourt (33), Michel Bergeron (32), Petr Klima (32), Sergei Fedorov (31) and Tom Webster (30).

Larkin currently ranks No. 13 all-time franchise rookie goals, No. 14 in assists, and No. 15 in points.

Yzerman holds the club’s rookie marks for goals (39) and points (87), while Marcel Dionne and Nicklas Lidstrom share the Wings’ rookie record for assists (49).

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