If Jimmy Howard keeps turning in performances like the one gave the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, there should be no reason his team doesn’t reach the postseason. Howard made 36 saves to lead the Wings past the Colorado Avalanche, just two days after he made 32 saves in a tough shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. For a second straight game, Howard saw his bid for a shutout come up short in the final minutes of the game. On Sunday, Patrick Kane beat him on the power play with less than three minutes remaining and on Monday it was Paul Stastny getting a late goal with Avs netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere pulled for the extra attacker.
Johan Franzen’s first goal in eight games and a fluke (or cleverly-planned) goal from Niklas Kronwall were all the Detroit offense would need, as Howard did the rest and provided several highlight-reel saves. His desperate, diving stop on John Mitchell two minutes into the third period got the Joe Louis Arena crowd on their feet and chanting his name, and he was named first star of the game after getting the Red Wings their fourth win in their last six games.
Howard’s stats may not be dazzling this season (9-7-3, 2.63 goals against) but he has definitely proven capable of stealing a few wins for the Red Wings and has been at the top of his game for the past two weeks. For all the questions he faced heading into the season about if it was his skills or that of the players in front of him that led to Detroit’s success the past three seasons, he has silenced his doubters and continues to lead a now-mostly-healthy Red Wings team towards the postseason.