DETROIT — Red Wings coach Mike Babcock summed it up nicely when he approached reporters after the game Wednesday.
"Howie was good. That’s about it," Babcock said succinctly.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard made 37 saves but the Boston Bruins got the 3-2 win when he couldn’t stop David Krejci and Reilly Smith in the shootout.
Those same two players scored the Bruins’ goals in regulation.
Although the Wings fell to 1-1-1 on the season, they did get a point out of their second game in less than a week against the Bruins.
"I thought he was fantastic all game through," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of Howard. "After two periods, he’d stopped them quite a few times there. I thought singlehandedly he got us a point."
Just last week in the home opener, the Wings came out with a lot of speed and intensity, holding the Bruins to just five shots in the first period and just 17 for the game.
Wednesday night, it was the Bruins who were the more determined team, eager to stop an early-season three-game skid.
"You can see what happens when we play determined," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "And when we play a hard and heavy game."
Babcock has said all along that for the Wings to be successful, they need all 20 guys going at the same time.
So he wasn’t thrilled with what he saw from his team Wednesday.
"We didn’t skate," Babcock said. "Maybe it was we were tired, but we were on the ice for 35 minutes (Tuesday) so that’s no reason to be tired. We didn’t win any battles. Is that because you’re tired or because you’re not mentally engaged in it as much as them? I didn’t think we were very good."
The only other good thing besides Howard was the penalty kill, which managed to kill off all three Boston power plays.
For the season, the Wings are a perfect 10-for-10 on the penalty kill.
"They’ve been tremendous," said Gustav Nyquist, who scored in his third straight game. "From winning battles and clearing the puck to blocking shots. And obviously Howie in the back it’s tough to get through him, too. It’s looked unbelievable so far, I think, and hopefully we can keep that up."
More than anything, the Wings need Howard to play as he did Wednesday night.
Last season he was 21-19-11 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
For the Wings to succeed, Howard has to be one of their best players every night.
Wednesday night he was and it was enough to get the Wings a point.
"Tuukka (Rask) played real well," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He made the saves he had to make. But Howard played real well. He was tested more than Tuukka."