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Howard injured in win over Maple Leafs

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Instead of celebrating his birthday with a win Saturday, Jimmy Howard needed help off the ice following a controversial play, which injured the Red Wings' 27-year-old goalie.

Howard needed to be helped to the Wings' bench during the third period of the Wings' 4-2 win in a heated Original Six rivalry game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena.

It appeared that Howard injured his left shoulder on a Leafs’ scoring that tied the game at 2, with 13:49 left in regulation. The Red Wings summed up Howard’s status as an upper body injury.

Howard was hurt when Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul toppling over, landing on the left shoulder of the Wings’ netminder. Lupul, who scored on the play, was stationed in front of the Wings’ net, battling for position in the crease with Wings center Kris Draper. 

Neither referee Bill McCreary nor Marcus Vinnerborg whistled the Maple Leafs’ forward for goaltender interference, which puzzled Wings coach Mike Babcock.

“I saw their guy go in the crease – Lupul went into the crease – bumped into our guy, then Draper pushed him in, and after he fell on him,” Babcock said. “I mean it’s easy for us, we saw the replay ... The part I don’t like is that when (Tomas) Holmstrom is near the net, the whistle goes and the goals are waived off, and they’re allowed to fall on the goalie. It’s one of those things that happen in hockey, and we need to make sure we’re looking after the goalies.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland spoke to the media following Saturday’s game and said that at first glance, the injury to Howard doesn’t appear to be serious, though team doctors still plan to order an MRI as a precaution.

Backup goalie Joey MacDonald came in and blanked the Maple Leafs in the final 13 minutes, stopping all seven shots that he faced and earning the win in relief.

The Red Wings earned two big points in the standings after Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi (empty net) scored to lift them to a 4-2 victory over their Original Six archrivals.

“I thought Mac did a real good job,” Babcock said. “They had a couple chances at the end there and he gave a real good poke-check when they were coming around the net and one of their guys fell, so it is what it is.”

With only seven games left before the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Wings don’t need to be without Howard for an extended time. The Wings are already without veteran goalie Chris Osgood, who was put back on injured reserve with persistent soreness following surgery to repair a sports hernia in January. Intern Michael Caples contributed to this report.

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