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Howard shines in net as Wings fall to Bruins

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Jimmy Howard enters this season as the Red Wings' backup goaltender.

But Howard can still be an effective presence for this team, as he showed for most of the evening in a 2-1, overtime exhibition loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday.

Howard made 23 stops, but the Bruins’ Ryan Spooner beat him at 34 seconds of overtime when Spooner got free and converted a pass out of the corner.

The Red Wings fell to 2-0-1 this preseason. Riley Sheahan scored the Red Wings goal.

Entering this season there’s no doubt Petr Mrazek is the starter and Howard is the No. 2.

Mrazek assumed control of the position the second half of last season, lost it to Howard late in the season, but reclaimed it the middle of the first-round of the playoffs.

BOX SCORE: Bruins 2, Red Wings 1, overtime

Attempting to trade Howard over the summer proved to be difficult with several other goalies on the trade market.

So Howard returns, firmly as the backup, and listening to coach Jeff Blashill Friday morning the Red Wings are glad to have him.

“The one thing I will tell you for sure, there’s no question he’ll have an impact on our success,” said Blashill, who had a conversation with Howard before training camp began.

“Regardless of which goaltender you are, you’re going to have an impact on the success, that was No. 1,” Blashill said of the things he discussed with Howard. “Two, let’s focus on getting better, that’s the big thing with all of our guys, let’s just get a little bit better every day and if we make those marginal gains throughout the season that puts himself in the best position to be successful.

“He’d like to play a ton. The best way to play a ton is to play well.”

Howard has worked with new goaltending coach Jeff Salajko this training camp.

“I’ve been working with Sal to stay more composed and patient in net,” Howard said. “I’m starting to see some dividends of working on it. Not rushing on shots and having your feet set under you.”

Howard made timely saves the last two periods with the Red Wings clinging to their lead.

“Jimmy played good,” Blashill said. “He made the big save on the pass out (in the third period) which was a big moment. Overall he played well.”

The Bruins finally tied the score at 1 at 12:31 of the third period when Danton Heinen beat Howard with a backhander.

Sheahan scored his second goal of the preseason at 5 minutes, 24 seconds of the second period.

Mike Green had the puck near the dot and let go a shot that Sheahan got his stick on and redirected past Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin.

The Red Wings killed two Bruins power plays in a scoreless first period, the Red Wings killing three for the game.

“Our effort was real good,” Blashill said. “We skated real hard with this group (Thursday, so) to come back with a real hard effort was good. The power play and penalty kill looked good at times.” @tkulfan