Red Wings’ Mrazek replaces Howard for Game 3

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Petr Mrazek will play in goal for the Red Wings in Game 3 after the Lightning won two at home.

Mrazek said he is confident he has repaired his game, having worked on his foot movement and management of the crease will goal tending coach Jim Bedard for several weeks since his last complete game, March 24.

Jimmy Howard said he is disappointed, and thinks if he had been able to stop some of the Lightning’s goals after getting a piece of a few of them Friday, the series might be different.

“First of all, Jimmy’s done a good job through two games, so it’s certainly not a matter of him not doing a good enough job,” Jeff Blashill said.

“We’ve got a really good goalie as well in Petr Mrazek, who’s had a history of success. Obviously, last year, he did a really good job against Tampa.

“So, we made the decision to put Petr in.”

Blashill’s message to Wings: ‘Series isn’t over’

Mrazek said he is looking forward to the challenge of stepping two games into a series, down 2-0, after what amounts to a long layoff.

“It’s going to be fun to play in front of our fans,” Mrazek said.

“Every playoff game you play gives you more confidence and experience,” he said, recalling his stint against the Lightning in the 2015 conference quarterfinals. “I hope I am going to build from that.”

Mrazek said he has worked hard with Bedard and would not call the last few weeks “a difficult time.”

“That’s how hockey is, sometimes,” he said. “You have to work hard and stay positive, and don’t worry about the games that have happened.

“It’s a new day and a new game.”

Howard was upbeat and sociable, talking about the switch

“It’s his decision,” he said plainly, of Blashill’s choice. “It’s Blash’s decision.”

And then he inventoried the goals scored by the Lightning.

“I did get a piece of (Nikita) Kucherov’s,” he said. “I did get a piece of (Brian) Boyle’s. I did get a piece of (Tyler) Johnson.

“Maybe if I just got a little more of it, it’s a different series.”

In other words, Howard did not steal a game.

Saddled with a porous Red Wings defense, at times, a malady that has plagued both goalies far too often throughout the season, Howard could not save the day.

Now, it is Mrazek’s turn.

He said the long layoff is not a big problem.

“I wouldn’t say difficult,” he said. “It’s just when you work hard and practice hard, you stay in the game. And then if you get the call to be in the net you just go there and do your best.”

Blashill said he likes the work Mrazek has put in, and thinks some time out of the net is therapeutic.

“He went through a stretch where he wasn’t playing good enough,” he said. “I actually think the fact that he’s had a little time away from his last start, and I think sometimes you need some time away.

“And I think it’s been positive that he’s had the opportunity to get away and just get down to working on his game.

“And I think he’s worked really hard with Jimmy Bedard to make sure he’s got his feet set and good management of the crease. Those types of things make him real successful. I think he’s prepared to go out and do a good job.

“Now, he’s got to execute.”