Detroit — Goaltender Jimmy Howard put the blame on one person, in one direction, Saturday after the Red Wings’ 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Howard put the defeat squarely on himself.
“At the end of the day, the guys did their job and I have to do mine for them,” Howard said.
Howard allowed four goals on 10 shots and was relieved after two periods by Petr Mrazek (10 saves on 12 shots).
The Blues scored three second-period goals on six shots.
Vladimir Sobotka scored on a great shot from the dot, off the rush, that beat Howard cleanly.
Scottie Upshall scored on a breakaway after stripping the puck from Niklas Kronwall at the blue line, a goal that Howard identified as one he’d like back, feeling he had everything covered.
Then Jay Bouwmeester capped the barrage with a shot from the point that went off a stick in front.
“We really played well against them,” Howard said. “It’s one of those nights. I have to be better next time.”
The Little Caesars Arena crowd gave Howard a Bronx cheer late in the second period, after Howard had allowed the four goals, cheering loudly when Howard made a routine save.
“It comes with the territory,” Howard said. “It’s one of those positions (goaltending) where it happens to even the best guys in the league.”
After the game, coach Jeff Blashill stood behind the goaltender and expressed no concern about Howard’s mindset or performance.
“His game is right where it needs to be,” Blashill said. “There’s some nights when the puck goes in, sometimes the puck goes off people and whatever happens, it finds its way in. It’s kind of what happened tonight.
“Jimmy is on top of his game. He looks to me the way he did at the beginning of the year and at the world championships and at the beginning of last year.”
Blashill understood the crowd razzing Howard, but didn’t believe the goaltender deserved it.
“I get it, we have a passionate fan base,” Blashill said. “But they (fans) appreciate guys who go to work and put their head down and fight through adversity and I know what this city is about, and that’s what this guy has done.
“He was down and out two years ago and could have said woe is me and a bunch of excuses, but he went to work.
“That’s the type of guy I’m proud to coach and his teammates are proud to be teammates of. I have no concerns of Jimmy Howard long term.”
Howard doesn’t feel there’s a lot of work that needs to get done to get back to the level he was playing at several weeks ago.
“I don’t think I have to change too much,” Howard said. “Just be a little more patient and let the play come to me.
“I don’t think I have to reinvent the wheel. It’s just something where I have to find a way to come up with saves for the guys like I was earlier in the year.”
Forward Tyler Bertuzzi made his season debut after being recalled Friday from Grand Rapids.
Bertuzzi didn’t get a ton of ice time, 9:13 on 13 shifts, playing on a line with former Griffins teammates Andreas Athanasiou and Martin Frk.
“I played with Double-A and Frk before so I was comfortable,” said Bertuzzi, who missed the first month of the season after injuring his wrist in training camp. “It kind of took a little longer than I expected (to return to playing) but I just went to G.R. and played hard and tried to find my touch again.
“I feel good now and I was excited to get the call.”
It’s unknown how long Bertuzzi will stick with the Red Wings.
Luke Witkowski ended his 10-game suspension Saturday, and David Booth’s injury might not be a long-term one.
But Bertuzzi feels he is ready for a long-term NHL spot, whenever that opportunity will arise, after earning playoff Most Valuable Player honors while helping the Griffins to a Calder Cup last spring.
“Experience,” Bertuzzi said when asked the difference. “I’ve played a couple games before (in the NHL), and like I said, I’ve played with Frk and Double-A, and that makes it all easier.”
Blashill said he’ll have a discussion with the coaching staff and general manager Ken Holland Sunday to determine Bertuzzi’s spot with the Red Wings.
With ice time not really available right now on the Red Wings, it’s probably better for Bertuzzi to play large, meaningful minutes in Grand Rapids.
“It’s one of reasons we haven’t called him up before,” Blashill said. “We don’t have a lot of ice time for him. If he was clearly better than another winger, it would be different.
“But right now he’s somebody who can play in the league and ultimately he’ll be a good player (in the NHL), but I don’t have the ice time for him.”
The Red Wings fell to 8-6-1 against Western Conference teams and have — in a scheduling quirk — played more games against Western teams (15) than the Eastern Conference (14 games, 3-7-4).
… Howard tied Jon Casey for 10th all-time in games played by an American goaltender, with his 425th career game.
… Mike Green appeared in his 750th career NHL game.