Patrick Kane had a giveaway to set up Franzen's game-winner.
"It's unforgiveable to make a turnover that bad," he said. "Pretty sloppy game. A lot of turnovers, a lot of giveaways."
Detroit hadn't played since Sunday and seemed much fresher in the second period. That was fine with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
"It's always nice to look fast against a good opponent," he said. "I thought we did a real good job in the second period to tilt the rink a little bit.
"I like us to play fast; I like us to play in attack mode."
Luke Glendening put Detroit on the board six minutes in when he backhanded a rebound of Drew Miller's shot past Corey Crawford, who finished with 32 saves. Kane scored Chicago's lone goal during a power play later in the first.
The Blackhawks' goal came less than a minute after Howard made three point-blank saves to deny Kane. Howard didn't have to work nearly as hard the rest of the night.
"I was just tracking the puck," Howard said. "He got a couple of whacks at it, but I was able to get my glove on it before he got it."
The game matched the NHL's two best penalty-killing teams, and Chicago kept its league-best average above 90 percent after holding the Red Wings without a goal on three power plays.
Detroit welcomed back center Pavel Datsyuk, who had an assist after missing two games because of a sore groin.
NOTES: Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya was back after being forced out of Tuesday's win against Tampa Bay when he blocked a shot. ... Red Wings RW Tomas Jurco, a healthy scratch the previous three games, returned to the lineup. ... Chicago forwards Patrick Sharp (knee) and Daniel Carcillo (lower body) sat out. ... The Red Wings recalled G Petr Mrazek from Grand Rapids of the AHL and assigned G Tom McCollum to Grand Rapids.