Tampa, Fla. — Tomas Nosek was close a few other times in recent games, but this time he didn’t miss.
Nosek was close on several occasions in his previous few NHL games, but Tuesday in Carolina he converted a chance from in close in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes.
The goal was the first for Nosek at the NHL level, but there’s a good chance it won’t be the last.
Compared to a short six-game call-up last season, Nosek looks faster, stronger and ready for an NHL job.
“Every game you get confidence, so I can feel it right now,” said Nosek, who now has 11 games of NHL experience over two seasons. “I got confidence down there (in Grand Rapids) and I’ve brought it up here. I can feel it.”
Nosek, 24, had 15 goals and 25 assists in 49 games with Grand Rapids before being promoted to the Red Wings.
Thus far, in five games, Nosek has not looked out of place.
“He’s a good player, a good 200-foot player,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s smart and accountable and has good puck skills. He has good hands around the net and good offensive ability.
“He’s just a real smart player.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Nosek has the strength and size to handle himself down low. That’s how Tuesday’s goal came about, and Nosek has been close on several other occasions since being recalled.
“I’ve been so close a couple of times but I didn’t put it in,” Nosek said. “So (I had to) keep in mind to make sure it goes in (this time). I’m very happy for the goal.
“But we lost, so it’s a little bit bad.”
Tomas Nosek comments in his first NHL goal.
The knock on Nosek has always been with his foot speed, but Nosek has worked diligently the last two summers – since signing with the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent from the Czech Republic – and he’s looked faster and comfortable driving to the net.
“I’ve just tried to play my game,” Nosek said. “My game, from when I was little. I just try to be a little bit faster, that’s what the coaches have told me every summer to work on.
“I just try to go hard to the net and use the big body and (my) speed.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg has been impressed with Nosek’s work since joining the Red Wings.
“He’s been playing well ever since he’s been up here,” Zetterberg said. “Every time he’s been on the ice, he works hard and does the right things. It’s good to see he got rewarded with a goal.”
The Red Wings will be without forward Luke Glendening the remainder of the season. General manager Ken Holland confirmed Glendening has a fractured foot and be shut down for the final six games.
Glendening suffered the injury early in Monday’s 4-3 overtime victory over Carolina. Whether he needs surgery has not yet been determined.
Glendening played in 74 games, with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists), and a minus-10 plus-minus rating.
Andreas Athanasiou, who was cross-checked in the back by Carolina’s Victor Rask Monday while scoring the winning goal in overtime, missed Tuesday’s game and remains day-to-day.
… If the goalie rotation holds, and it likely will, Petr Mrazek is likely to start Thursday against Tampa.
… Tuesday’s loss was the third game in three days for the Red Wings, a rarity at the NHL level, but necessary because of the December postponement in Carolina due to poor ice conditions.
Players admitted the schedule got to them Tuesday.
“It’s mental, too, not just physical,” Zetterberg said. “We had our legs at the start. But sometimes it’s the brain that doesn’t work.”
Red Wings at Lightning
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.
Outlook: Tampa (37-29-9, 83 points) trails Boston by three points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference … Lightning center Steven Stamkos (knee) hurt his knee Nov. 15 against the Red Wings, had surgery, and is now day-to-day.