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Howard bails out Wings in win

Veteran goalie makes 36 saves in 2-1 victory over Avs

Tuesday, 03.5.2013 / 11:16 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Howard bails out Wings in win

Jimmy Howard made this save on Colorado's John Mitchell, which protected the Red Wings' 2-0 lead early in the third period. The Red Wings' goalie made 36 saves in the win. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – It was out of pure desperation that Jimmy Howard made the save of the game from one of the most vulnerable positions a goaltender can be in.

With his arms stretched out over his head and the rest of his body in the air and parallel to the ice, Howard threw himself back over the blue paint where he robbed Colorado center John Mitchell of a sure goal.

“It was just one of those things,” Howard said. “You do it in practice, never give up on pucks in practice and sometimes in games you come up with it.”

The third-period save on Mitchell was just one of many highlight reel saves that Howard made during the Red Wings’ 2-1 win over the Avalanche on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

As he was in Sunday’s shootout loss to Chicago – where he allowed just one goal in regulation – Howard was spectacular against the Avs, making 36 saves, many of which left their shooters spellbound.

Cruising in on the right wing, Mitchell picked up a rebound and flipped a shot on his back-hand, which was earmarked for a large opening in the Wings’ net.

“I figured he would go down a little earlier, but he dove over and kept his hands up,” Mitchell said. “I was in so tight that I really didn’t have much room. All I was trying to do was get it up and hopefully he was going to be down with all of his gloves and stick. But he made a great save by keeping his hands up.”

Howard made 15 saves alone in the third period. The Avs finally beat him when with 1:30 left in regulation, Paul Stastny scored on his own rebound. Howard kicked out Statsny’s initial shot, but the puck went right back to Stastny, who reached with his backhand in traffic and squeezed a shot between Howard’s body and the near post.

Despite the goal, Howard’s stellar play protected the Wings’ two-goal cushion for more than 18-minutes of the final period. Moments after stopping Mitchell, he came up again, this time stopping a breakaway chance by P.A. Parenteau.

“What can you say? He bailed us out tonight,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who scored his third goal of the season on Tuesday. “If it weren’t for him we probably wouldn’t have won that game.”

The Wings built a 2-0 lead when Johan Franzen and Kronwall scored even-strength goals more than 10-minutes apart in the second period. It was Franzen’s first goal in a month and his first game-winner in more than a year.

For the fourth straight time, the Red Wings didn’t allow a goal in the first 40 minutes. Detroit’s defense has definitely stiffened over the last six games, surrendering just nine goals in the team’s 4-1-1 stretch.

Yet despite the improved defense, Kronwall wasn’t overly satisfied with the team’s performance.

“It was way too much open hockey for us, especially in the first,” he said. “I thought in the second we got better. But obviously, Howie’s coming up huge for us … giving us a chance. You cannot ask anything more in a goalie.”

After the game, Mitchell admitted that Howard’s acrobatic stop was probably one of the best saves against him in his five NHL seasons.

“Marc-Andre Fleury robbed me last year pretty hard, probably even worse than that,” said Mitchell, who has one goal in the last eight games. “I’m not really having too much luck in tight with a goalie kind of down and out. Credit to him, he made a great save.

“I have to bury that.”

THREE STARS: 3, Johan Franzen, DET (1 goal); 2, Niklas Kronwall, DET (1 goal); 1, Jimmy Howard, DET (36 saves, W).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89