Datsyuk out, Kronwall back; Howard seeks redemption in goal against Sharks

Niklas Kronwall was a last-minute scratch from Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to visiting Arizona because of a lower-body injury.

Greg M. Cooper

Center Pavel Datsyuk remains unavailable for tonight’s game against San Jose, but defenseman Niklas Kronwall was back in and Jimmy Howard got the start in goal despite being roughed up for five goals in his last outing.

"No, not today," Datsyuk said after this morning’s skate. "We shoot for today. It doesn’t work. So we shoot for next game."

This will be the fifth straight game Detroit’s second-leading scorer will miss because of a lower-body injury.

"Hard to say when," Datsyuk said. "Every day (is) better, more confidence, more powerful."

Kronwall, a last-minute scratch from Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss to visiting Arizona because of a lower-body injury, returned. It was welcomed news for coach Mike Babcock, who praises the team’s top defenseman at every opportunity for his poise and leadership on and off the ice. But the Wings really missed him on the power play against the Coyotes, especially during four straight minutes with the extra man when they managed only two shots on goal.

"We never executed. That’s an area where Kronwall would have really helped us," Babcock said. "You just don’t replace good players."

Which might explain why, despite his dissatisfaction with his No. 1 goaltender’s inconsistency since he returned after missing a month with a groin injury, Babcock went right back to Howard for tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

"He’s our starting goalie until he’s not our starting goalie," Babcock said. "I’ve been here a long time. I’ve had lots of goalies. We’ve had lots of goalies struggle. But your guy is normally your guy — until he isn’t your guy, then you find another way to go.

"But the bottom line is he played two good games and then we couldn’t keep it keep it out of our net last game. He’s got to be better, but our whole group has got to be better. So he gets another opportunity to go here again today."

Babcock made one other injury-related lineup change: winger Erik Cole, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained against Arizona, was replaced by Stephen Weiss.