DETROIT – Rookie forward Ville Leino scored his first goal in the Detroit Red Wings’ 4-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers in an NHL exhibition Sunday.
Chris Osgood made 14 saves for Detroit (2-1-1). Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist and Mikael Samuelsson and Dan Cleary also scored for Detroit. Jiri Hudler added two assists.
Leino, from Finland, signed as a free agent during the off-season. He is battling with Darren McCarty, Aaron Downey and Darren Helm for the final forward spot on the Stanley Cup champions’ roster.
Leino has impressed with his ability to stick handle and pass the puck, but he’s working on his quickness and the ability to play in traffic.
His first goal, which gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with 3:39 left in the first period, showed he can do the latter.
Leino went to the net and jammed in the rebound of Helm’s pass attempt when it bounced off Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen’s pads into the crease.
Leino said his coaches have told him to “go straight and always go fast forward and go to the net. You don’t have so much time. … You just got to go to the net and shoot more and put it on the net.”
Coach Mike Babcock said Leino has the ability.
“He can hold onto the puck. That goal shows you have to go to the net. He’s an NHL player,” Babcock said. “You can make all of those nice plays. But it’s just fluff if it’s all on the outside and not on the inside.”
Samuelsson’s 5-on-3 power-play goal 5:59 into the second period made it 2-0 when he tipped in Niklas Kronwall’s shot from the point. Zetterberg completed a 2-on-1 rush by putting a one-time shot into the empty-side of the net from the bottom of the right circle with 8:03 left in the middle period. Cleary scored with 1:03 left to play.
Lehtonen stopped 34 shots for Atlanta (1-2).