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Howard is OK'ed to return to action

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Jimmy Howard will return to the net on Thursday, following a vision scare that he experienced in Nashville on Tuesday. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – As the Red Wings went on their first power play Tuesday night, Jimmy Howard began to feel strange when he experienced blurred vision.

“It was scary. I’m not going to lie,” the Red Wings goaltender said, following Thursday’s morning skate. “I was trying to track down the puck in the other end and I realized I didn’t have that great vision on it. Then I started looking around and it was sort of like everything was sort of a blur. … I knew I wouldn’t be helping the guys if I stayed out there.”

With 8:38 left in the first period, Howard skated to the team bench where he pulled himself from the game. The blurry vision lasted for much of the night, but a battery of tests, first at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, then Wednesday at the Detroit Medical Center, showed no abnormalities.

However, Howard is fine and will start tonight when the Red Wings host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Joe Louis Arena.

Howard underwent a CT scan and had other tests performed by an optometrist on Wednesday.

Howard was kicked on the left side of the mask during practice Monday in Nashville, though doctors don’t believe that it had anything to do with his blurred vision.

“I started looking right away for blood because the mask actually came up,” said Howard, of Monday’s incident. “I was more scared than anything else coming that close to a skate blade. … It was just one of those freak things.”

NOTEBOOK: Johan Franzen (hip) said Thursday that he hopes to be ready for the weekend when the Red Wings host back to back games against Nashville on Saturday, and Vancouver on Sunday.

Franzen, who last played on Feb. 10 against Los Angeles, has skated hard for the last few days, but was still scheduled to have an ultrasound of the injured hip flexor this afternoon.

“They’re going to see if it’s healed or it it’s starting to heal,” he said. “They need some pictures to make sure.”

Franzen has three goals and six assists this season, but he’s missed the last four games, which has left a hole among the Wings’ top six forwards.

“I’ve been pushing real hard the last 3-4 days,” he said. “It feels better to me, definitely. As long as I can skate hard I’m real happy.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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