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Red Wings’ Jared Coreau nervous for NHL debut

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist collides with Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau in the second period.

Pittsburgh – Jared Coreau admitted to a bit of being anxious.

Knowing you’re about to start your first regular-season NHL game as a member of the Detroit Red Wings – against the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, no less – will do that to a goaltender.

“I can’t hide it, I was surprised I got to bed around 11 (p.m.), so that was good,” said Coreau, who started for the Wings Saturday night in Pittsburgh. “But it’s anxiousness and nervousness but also a lot of readiness. I’m just excited to get the first game.”

Coreau held the Penguins at bay for the first two periods and took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. But the Wings were doomed by defensive lapses in the third period and fell, 5-3.

Coreau was called up Nov. 26 after Jimmy Howard injured his groin in New Jersey.

Petr Mrazek has started the three games since, but with the back-to-back games this weekend, coach Jeff Blashill felt this was a good opportunity to use Coreau, who started and played well in an exhibition game in Pittsburgh in October.

“No matter who we play, it’s going to be a good team,” Blashill said. “There are no teams in the NHL who aren’t good hockey teams.

“Jared was in here in the preseason and felt comfortable in this building, so let’s give him a shot. He’s worked extremely hard to put his skill set into being successful and now he has to go execute.”

Coreau, 25, in his fourth pro season, was an undrafted free agent out of Northern Michigan.

In 13 games in Grand Rapids this season, Coreau was 8-5-0 with a 2.39 goal-against average and .923 save percentage.

“I’m believe I’m ready,” Coreau said. “I know the work I put in and I’m just ready to get going and get the first game under my belt.”

Red Wings collecting injuries as fast as points

More extensive offseason work, said Coreau, helped him get to the NHL.

“(It was) figuring out my off-ice stuff, the vision training and changing my trainer, (and) diet – that was definitely a big one,” Coreau said. “There were a lot of things away from the rink and a lot of things at the rink – just a better mindset on winning and getting the job done.”

Red Wings reinforcements

The Red Wings brought up forward Tomas Nosek and defenseman Brian Lashoff from minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids to add depth to a lineup depleted by injuries.

Both have NHL experience with the Red Wings from previous call-ups, but neither was expected to be in the lineup against the Penguins.

“There’s a number of good players down there (Grand Rapids); it could be different guys a lot of the time,” Blashill said. “Lashoff had a real good training camp and blocks shots, and on the penalty kill, the way we kill penalties, killing penalties is critical. He does a real good job and I have a lot of confidence he can go in and do a real good job.

 “Nosek, last year when he got called up, did a very good job. He’s sound defensively.”

Ice chips

Frans Nielsen was looking forward to facing the New York Islanders Sunday for the first time since signing with the Red Wings

Frans Nielsen was looking forward to facing the New York Islanders Sunday for the first time since signing July 1 with the Red Wings as a free agent.

Nielsen played 10 seasons with the Islanders.

“It’s going to be weird coming back,” Nielsen said. “With all the good friends and people you been with for so long, and management and everything, it’s going to be for sure a weird feeling. But I’m looking forward to it.”

… Tomas Jurco took the place of Justin Abdelkader spot on a line with Nielsen and Luke Glendening.

Jurco played just under 14 minutes and was credited with two shots, just missing an open net that would have tied the score late in the third period.

“Anywhere I’m going to play, I’m going to try to do my best and be the best player I can be,” said Jurco, who returned to the lineup two games ago after recovering from offseason back surgery. “It’s way better. After a game I’m stiff but the next day I feel good. I remember how for the last couple years, the next day in the morning I could barely walk. It’s way better now.”

… Drew Miller returned to the lineup and was credited with a team-high five hits in just under seven minutes of playing time.

… Blashill feels the Penguins are as deep as any team in the league.

“They have a bunch of real good players,” Blashill said. “Crsoby is playing at a level he’s the best in the league, but certainly (Evgeni) Malkin, on any shift can be the best player in the lineup. I’ve known Phil Kessel for a long time and he’s an elite goal scorer. You go through the lineup, Kris Letang is one of the best defensemen, for my money, in the league. They have two great goalies. They’re real well coached. They’re a real good team.”

Nielsen played 10 seasons with the Islanders.

“It’s going to be weird coming back,” Nielsen said. “With all the good friends and people you been with for so long, and management and everything, it’s going to be for sure a weird feeling. But I’m looking forward to it.”

…Tomas Jurco took Justin Abdelkader’s (knee) spot on a line with Nielsen and Luke Glendening.

Jurco played just under 14 minutes and was credited with two shots, just missing an open net that would have tied the game late in the third period.

“Anywhere I’m going to play, I’m going to try to do my best and be the best player I can be,” said Jurco, who returned to the lineup two games ago after recovering from off-season back surgery. “It’s way better. After a game I’m stiff but the next day I feel good. I remember how for the last couple years, the enxt day in the morning I could barely walk. It’s way better now.”

…Drew Miller returned to the lineup and was credited with a team-high five hits in just under seven minutes of playing time.

…Blashill feels the Penguins are as deep as any team in the league.

“They have a bunch of real good players,” Blashill said. “Crsoby is playing at a level he’s the best in the league, but certainly (Evgeni) Malkin, on any shift can be the best player in the lineup. I’ve known Phil Kessel for a long time and he’s an elite goal scorer. You go through the lineup, Kris Letang is one of the best defensemen, for my money, in the league. They have two great goalies. They’re real well coached.

“They’re a real good team.”

Red Wings at Islanders

Faceoff: Sunday, 6 p.m., Barclays Center, Brooklyn

TV / radio: Fox Sports Detroit / 97.1 FM

Notes: The Islanders (9-10-4, 22 points) have won three consecutive games and are slowly moving upward in the Eastern Conference. … The Islanders’ hopes revolve around C John Tavares (12 assists, 18 points).

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tkulfan