Goalie nods: Howard starts over Mrazek as Detroit fights for playoff life


After Saturday’s ugly 7-2 home loss to Pittsburgh — a game in which Petr Mrazek gave up four goals, and Jimmy Howard allowed three — Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t commit to a starter for tonight’s game in Buffalo.

This morning, though, it was Howard that got the nod.

And so it’ll be Howard tasked with trying to get Detroit back into playoff position. The Wings head into Monday’s action tied on 85 points with Philly — though Philly holds the final wild card spot via tiebreaker — and almost certainly need all two points as the Sabres invade Joe Louis.

Howard hasn’t exactly “won” tonight’s start, but rather has been the better of two struggling netminders. Mrazek, who at one point this season was in the Vezina conversation, has struggled mightily in February and March, which is why Howard — despite going just 2-2-0 with a .882 save percentage and 3.53 GAA this month — gets the nod.

For the Sabres, Chad Johnson is in goal.


— In a game Detroit will likely be keeping an eye on, Steve Mason makes his sixth straight start as the Flyers host the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec goes for Winnipeg.

Sergei Bobrovsky takes on Braden Holtby as the Blue Jackets face the Caps in Washington.

Ben Bishop, who got a game off Sunday, will be back in net when the Bolts host the Leafs. Looks like Garret Sparks goes for Toronto.

— Good matchup in Nashville tonight as Semyon Varlamov and the visiting Avs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds.

John Gibson gets another crack at shutting out the Oilers (which he did, on 21 shots, the last time the Anaheim and Edmonton met). He’ll go up against Cam Talbot.

Joni Ortio versus Louis Domingue as the Flames visit Arizona.

— “Teacher versus pupil” tonight in San Jose as the Sharks will start Martin Jones against the Kings. L.A. will start the guy Jones used to sit behind: Jonathan Quick.