By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT — Jimmy Howard was in fine form Tuesday night, and it helped propel Detroit to its second win in a row and third-straight with at least one point – this one a 2-1 decision over the Anaheim Ducks.
It couldn’t have been more fitting for Howard, as he also passed Tim Thomas for eighth all-time in wins by a U.S.-born goaltender with his 215th. He earned high praise from head coach Jeff Blashill, a former goalie in his own right.
“Any time you’re in that list of accomplishments, I think that’s awesome,” Blashill said. “I’ve talked lots about this where last year, he was in a tough spot. Over the summer, he was told he was gonna be the backup and he went to work. I just think that’s what life’s about… I just believe success in life comes from work ethic and perseverance. He went to work and he persevered. It’s not about whether you get knocked down; it’s about how many times you get back up. Jimmy’s gotten up every time whenever he’s been challenged, including this season.”
Howard credited his teammates, both past and present, for helping him reach the mark.
“It’s really special, but for a goaltender to get wins, you’ve gotta have guys in front of you willing to do their jobs, so really, it’s all the guys in front of me.”
Meanwhile, Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen provided the offense for the Wings.
Larkin opened the scoring with his ninth of the season at13:32 of the opening frame. After Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa shipped a pass right in front of the Ducks’ goal from behind the goal line, Larkin intercepted and beat netminder John Gibson with a backhand move.
Just past the game’s halfway mark, the Ducks were heavily outshooting the Wings, 20-6, but it was Howard who held the fort down to the best of his ability, and his teammates certainly recognized it.
“Not sure if we deserved it tonight, but I think if it wasn’t for Howie, this would’ve looked a little different,” Nielsen said. “They’re a big and heavy team and they came out and played the way we wanted. They were getting pucks deep on us, they were good on the forecheck, especially in the first period where we were stuck in our own end.”
With just over four minutes left in the middle frame, Nielsen gave the Wings an insurance goal off a no-look centering pass from Anthony Mantha. The goal marked just the Wings’ ninth shot of the game at that juncture.
Adam Henrique cut the Wings’ lead to one with just over four minutes left in the contest, as he banged home the rebound of a Kevin Bieksa shot. Howard stopped the initial shot, but the rebound popped up in the air and dropped down behind him, as it sat on the goal line before crossing the line.
That’s a goal Howard’s teammates wish they could’ve kept out to get him his first shutout of the season.
“I wish we could take that goal back because he definitely deserved the shutout, and he was awesome tonight,” Larkin said. “It was fun to watch.”
The Wings next head to Tampa to take on the Lightning Thursday night.