When the Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson in the offseason, they surely were hoping to see a headline like the one above. They probably weren’t thinking they’d have to wait until Mar. 1 to see it though, but a nagging groin injury had limited Gustavsson’s season so far to two relief appearances. He made 25 saves Thursday night to lead the Wings past the San Jose Sharks in a shootout, getting two important points and giving Jimmy Howard a night off. Howard took the hard-luck 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night thanks to a defensive collapse in the late third period.
Almost half of the Red Wings’ roster has missed at least a game this season, and Gustavsson found himself on the list early, playing just 19 minutes in a season-opening loss to the St. Louis Blues before missing almost a month due to injury. He made a rehab start for the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins on Feb. 17, getting a 2-1 win while making 26 saves. Gustavsson then headed back to Detroit and made another relief appearance in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 19 but missed his next start due to the groin injury flaring up again. He appeared to be back in top form again Thursday, a good sign for a Red Wings team that has relied too heavily on Howard this season. The win put Detroit back in the playoff picture for the time being, a place they should be able to stay if they can finish out the season with Howard and Gustavsson staying healthy.