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Mrazek's step back is Howard's step forward

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Uniondale, N.Y. — It wasn't the way Jimmy Howard wanted to get back in a game, but when Petr Mrazek was pulled Sunday, Howard was back in net for the Red Wings.

After sitting out Saturday's game, Howard stopped 15 of 16 shots in the loss to the Islanders over the final two periods.

It was a step in the right direction.

"I really felt better," Howard said. "Just focusing on the puck and nothing else. It didn't matter if there were guys in front of me, just finding it, and that's why I've had success in the past and what I have to do in the future."

It was only two periods of work, but Howard felt work in practice with goaltending coach Jim Bedard is proving beneficial and was helpful against the Islanders.

"If you put in the work night in and night out and every single day in practice, and you battle, the games become easy," Howard said. "It's just one of those things and I have to keep working hard in practice.

"All I did was focus on the puck and where it was, and where the guys were and anticipating. You don't really want to go in in that type of situation, but you have to be ready at all times."

No late charge

The Red Wings were down a goal and needed to score to at least force overtime and gain a point in the standings. However, they only managed five shots in the third period Sunday on struggling Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

They didn't score, and haven't often during this latest stretch of losing (4-8-1 over their last 13 games).

Captain Henrik Zetterberg said the Red Wings had some quality chances in those five shots, but what's more disappointing is the lack of third-period comebacks which appeared to occur more often earlier in the season.

"We didn't score a goal and what happens once or twice, that's OK, but now it's starting to happen too many times," Zetterberg said. "We don't find a way to win and the other teams find a way to win. That's what we have to get back to doing, it's what we did earlier in the season."

Ice chips

The Red Wings went with the same lineup from the day before. Riley Sheahan (upper body) and Erik Cole (upper body) both remained out of the lineup.

… Unless the Red Wings and Islanders meet in the postseason, Sunday marked the Red Wings' last game at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders move to Brooklyn next season.

Howard, for one, will miss the venerable arena.

"This is old school," Howard said. "You just think about the all the guys in the past, all the greats and the teams that have dressed in this dressing room. It's pretty surreal it's not going to be here anymore.

"I've always enjoyed playing here. The crowds have always been loud and energetic. It'll be weird not coming here."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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