Ritola celebrates his preseason power-play goal against Tampa Bay in September. The Wings called him up on Saturday.
DETROIT – On Friday, rookie center Mattias Ritola celebrated his 21st birthday. A day later, he just might relish his NHL debut.
With Aaron Downey out with the flu, the Red Wings were forced to call-up Ritola from the club’s Grand Rapids affiliate on an emergency basis.
In 60 games with the Griffins, Ritola has scored six goals with 16 assists as a left wing. But in the last six games, he has shined, scoring twice with three assists, which accounts for nearly a quarter of his 21 points this season. His plus-15 rating also leads the Griffins.
It is expected that Ritola will rejoin Grand Rapids later today and complete a rare double-header by playing for the Griffins at 7 p.m.
In September, Ritola scored a power-play goal in the Wings' 3-2 preseason win over Tampa Bay. In that game, he was cut under the right eye by a puck in the first period and did not return.
Downey is the third Red Wings’ player to miss a game this week with the flu, joining defensemen Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja.
Downey has two assists and leads Detroit with 97 penalty minutes in 48 games this season.