DETROIT – Jimmy Howard’s name isn’t on the NHL all-star ballot. That didn’t prevent him from shining against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Howard had a 24-save shutout to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Oilers 3-0.
He insisted that being snubbed on the ballot, that lists 18 other goalies, doesn’t motivate him.
“It doesn’t bother me one bit,” Howard said.
Drew Miller, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Red Wings, who have won three straight after a six-game losing streak.
“We’re getting closer to playing the way we want to play,” Kronwall said. “We’re still not taking advantage of power plays. We had a chance to break the game open earlier than we did.”
Howard did his part—as usual.
He has two shutouts in a week and three this season, tying him for the NHL lead with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.
“Jimmy has been playing great all year,” Kronwall said. “Even when we were slumping, he was playing great and giving us a chance to win those games.”
No one in net has been playing better than Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin this season.
Khabibulin entered the game with a 7-0-2 record and an NHL-low 0.98 goals-against average, but he gave up a season-high three goals and made 27 saves.
“He was the same as he’s been all season,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “I think we gave the Red Wings all they could handle for about half the game, then we had a hard time keeping up with them once they got rolling with some momentum.”
The Northwest Division-leading Oilers, who were shut out for the first time this season, have lost three of four after winning six straight.
“From winning to losing, it changes so quick,” Khabibulin said. “We don’t want to panic, but we’ve got to realize what was working for us and get back to that.”
Miller scored his first goal of the season midway through the first period, beating Khabibulin with a shot after the puck caromed off two Oilers. The Red Wings had chances to take a two-goal lead late in the first during a power play, but Khabibulin went from post to post, high and low to turn them away.
Kronwall’s slapshot early in the second put Detroit ahead 2-0.
The Red Wings then sealed the win with 5:08 left when Filppula knocked the puck past Khabibulin from in front, off a centring pass from Henrik Zetterberg.
“With Khabibulin playing the way he is, you gotta get to the net,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
As well as Howard has been playing, though, he’s not basking in the glow. Instead, he’s deflecting credit toward his teammates by saying they’re doing a lot of “great things,” on the ice.
“We have to get through the neutral zone, making teams go a full 200 feet, we’re not turning pucks over,” Howard said. “We’re not seeing a lot of odd-man rushes against. Guys are sacrificing their bodies. It’s exciting to play for a goalie when you see that.”
NOTES: Detroit F Todd Bertuzzi was scratched for a third straight game with a sinus infection. … Oilers D Cam Barker didn’t play because of an ankle injury. F Ben Eager was a healthy scratch. … Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff played in his 700th NHL game, and Zetterberg was in his 600th after being questionable with a sore back.