Wings turn to Howard, as Flyers put the pressure on

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Another poor start from the suddenly struggling Petr Mrazek means Jimmy Howard will get the nod tonight in Columbus.

Mrazek was pulled after allowing two goals on five shots in Sunday’s loss to the Blackhawks. Howard came on in relief, allowing two goals on 21 shots as the Red Wings fell, 4-1, to the defending champs.

The Wings are still in a playoff spot, but thanks to the Flyers’ recent surge, their cushion has fallen to just two points. The last time Detroit missed the postseason was 1990, more than a quarter of a century ago, so the pressure is very much on for rookie head coach Jeff Blashill, and his goalies.

“I have unbelievable belief in Petr. I think he’s an elite goalie in this league,” Blashill told MLive. “I also think Jimmy’s proven through numerous different occasions in his career that he is an elite goalie in this league. I think we have the luxury of having two guys that I tons of confidence in.”

Howard played well in each of his last two starts, allowing just three goals on 71 shots combined. But the veteran has had a frustrating season overall, at times calling his performance “unacceptable.”

Howard is 8-9-5 with a .909 save percentage; Mrazek is 24-13-6 with a .924 save rate.

“I think you’re going to go through times in the year where you’re playing great and you’re going to go through times where the puck’s going in,” said Blashill. “Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s situational. Jimmy has played very well.”

standings

Related: At season’s end, Holland will ‘plot a plan’ to deal with Red Wings’ goalie situation