The return of coach John Tortorella and captain Henrik Sedin did not help the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
It was the Canucks' fourth loss in a row; Vancouver was 2-4-0 while Tortorella was serving a 15-day suspension and Sedin was sidelined with a rib injury.
Detroit (25-19-12) got its first regulation win since Jan. 24 and second since Jan. 11.
Jonas Gustavsson started in goal for the Red Wings but he did not take the net for the second period because of dizziness. He made eight saves.
With Howard in goal, the Red Wings took a 1-0 lead 1:08 into the second when Abdelkader's shot from above the left faceoff circle beat Canucks goalie Eddie Lack high to the stick side and went off the near post and in.
Henrik Zetterberg gained possession behind the net and backhanded a pass to Abdelkader. Gustav Nyquist also had an assist. That line combined for four goals and four assists in a 6-5 shootout loss at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Abdelkader scored into an empty net with 15 seconds remaining and the Red Wings on a power play.
Lack made 27 saves in his second straight start. The Canucks play at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Vancouver (27-21-9) has four regulation wins in its past 17 games.
Tortorella was coaching for the first time since he was suspended after a dressing-room confrontation with the Calgary Flames between the first and second periods of their game Jan. 18. That was Sedin's last game before Monday, with his consecutive-games-played streak ending at 679.
Each team had an excellent chance to score in the second period.
Vancouver's David Booth, a Detroit native, failed to score on a penalty shot he was awarded after being held by Jakub Kindl on a breakaway at 4:41.
The Red Wings did not score on a two-minute 5-on-3 power play that started 11:18 into the period.
Vancouver did not have a shot on goal in the third period until 5:36 remained. It wound up with three.
Earlier Monday, the Canucks acquired defenseman Rafael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for forward Dale Weise. Diaz is expected to play Tuesday.