Jimmy Howard has to be frustrated.
The Detroit Red Wings goaltender turned aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, only to suffer a 2-1 loss as his team failed to generate any offense until the last seconds of the game. A goal by Damien Brunner with four seconds remaining was the only thing that kept the Wings from suffering a second shutout in the first three games of the season.
Howard’s play really wasn’t the issue in Detroit’s season opening loss to the St. Louis Blues either. Defensive mistakes led to easy goals for Vladimir Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie, leading to Howard being pulled for backup Jonas Gustavsson. This year’s Red Wings defense is not as strong as what Howard has had in front of him the past three seasons, and injuries continue to make the situation worse. However, any night he’s able to turn aside 30 or more shots, it would be nice to see the team score some goals and help him out at the other end.
The Red Wings’ top line of Brunner, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk combined for 15 shots Tuesday, but couldn’t find the back of the net until it was too late. Despite peppering Kari Lehtonen with 40 shots, the Brunner goal was the only time the Wings managed to beat him. Power play struggles continued as well, with Detroit failing to capitalize on any of their four chances. The Red Wings have yet to score on the power play this season in 15 chances.
Howard is up for a contract extension this season, and is playing like he deserves it. He has done everything he can to keep his team in games, and made some big saves Tuesday in the second and third periods to give the Wings a chance to come back. Without offensive support, it’s going to be a long season for Howard and the rest of the Red Wings.