Jimmy Howard back in goal for Detroit on Sunday


Even though third-string netminder Joey MacDonald has won five straight contests, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said he’s going back to his No. 1 on Sunday for a key battle against the Sharks.

“Howie is starting against San Jose,” Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. “We’ll see what happens there. I don’t know if that means he’s starting against Nashville or not, but he’s starting sooner or later. You can only get so much holiday time during the regular season. It’s time for him to go.”

Howard’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 2 after breaking his finger in a 4-3 shootout win over Vancouver. Many feared the loss would derail Detroit as Howard’s been a workhorse this year — he was the goalie of record for the first 17 wins of the 21-game winning streak — but MacDonald wrestled the No. 2 gig away from struggling Ty Conlkin and was in goal for the record-tying and rec0rd-setting victories against Philadelphia and Dallas.

Perhaps watching MacDonald rip off five straight wins made Howard a little antsy. He sounded really keen to reclaim his starting gig and suggested it’s “a realistic goal” to come back even sooner and play against Nashville on Friday.

“Everything is fine,” he said. “I’ve been through a couple of days, and I’m looking forward to going back out there and going through a whole practice where I don’t have to come out of the net.”