NHL Hockey

Rookies at forefront of Canucks-Red Wings matchup

Two of the most impressive rookies in the NHL will be on display Tuesday as the Vancouver Canucks visit Detroit to face the Red Wings.

Canucks center Elias Pettersson leads all NHL rookies in goals and points with 9-6-15 totals in just nine games. In Vancouver's last game, 7-6 overtime decision over the Colorado Avalanche, Pettersson collected five points.

"He's really impressive," former Canucks star and fellow Swede Henrik Sedin told Vancouver's Sportsnet 650. "He plays the game in a way that you can't really compare him to the other players on the team because he can do it all."

The Canucks, who begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday, sit second in the Pacific Division with a 9-6-0 slate, and Pettersson is a big reason why.

At 19, he's the youngest player in franchise history to record a five-point game. The NHL rookie of the month for October, Pettersson was the fourth player in Canucks history to collect multiple points in his NHL debut and the second - along with Thomas Gradin (4-1-5 in 1978-79) - to record five points through his first two NHL appearances.

Pettersson ultimately extended his career-opening point streak to five games (5-3-8), becoming the second player in Vancouver history - along with Don Tannahill (3-2-5 in five games in 1972-73) - to achieve the feat. Pettersson added his sixth and seventh goals Oct. 29, making him the 21st player in league history - and eighth in the modern era - to reach that total through seven career NHL contests.

With nine goals on just 23 shots, Pettersson also owns an astonishing 39.8 percent shooting percentage.

The seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft, Pettersson arrived in Vancouver with a pedigree. Last season with the Vaxjo Lakers, he led the Swedish Elitserien in scoring with 56 points, shattering Kent Nilsson's 42-year-old league mark for points in a season by a teenager. Pettersson was named playoff MVP after leading Vaxjo to the title.

"We knew he was supposed to be a pretty good player," Canucks coach Travis Green told CBC.ca. "And he's been all of that."

The Wings also held high hopes for rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski. They just didn't think he'd be this good this early.

Cholowski leads all NHL first-year rearguards with eight points. He's been skating alongside Mike Green in Detroit's top defensive pairing, averaging 20:50 of ice time per game. Cholowski leads all NHL rookies with six power-play points.

"He moves the puck well," Detroit center Dylan Larkin said. "He has his head up all the time."

The Wings have also been impressed by the poise of the 21-year-old who spent last season in the WHL.

"I'd say that's one of the biggest things I try to have in my game," Cholowski said. "Not panic about anything or make a play that's not necessary, or just throw the puck away, or anything like that. I try to stay calm and poised with it."

Detroit, which saw its three-game win streak end with Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, hope to get forward Frans Nielsen (undisclosed injury) back after a three-game absence. He'll be a game-time decision.

Updated November 5, 2018

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