Wings lose game to Blues, Howard to injury

A lower-body injury forced goalie Jimmy Howard to leave in the second period of a 4-1 Red Wings loss to the Blues at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.

Rick Osentoski/Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — This Red Wings’ season is beginning to feel a lot like the movie "Groundhog Day" — same day, same thing.

They get an injured player and lose another. Then they can’t find the back of the net more than once.

After Monday night’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues (33-10-5), the Wings have fallen to 21-18-10 and 7-11-7 at home.

It’s the 26th time in 49 games that the Wings have scored fewer than three goals.

The Wings have scored 122 goals and allowed 134. For comparison, the Blues have scored 170 and allowed 108.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard left the game at midway through the second period, not because the score was 3-1 but because he aggravated an old injury.

"He got hurt," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The same knee, I guess."

General manager Ken Holland said after the game that Howard has a "minor lower-body injury" and is day-to-day.

The Wings will see how Howard feels Tuesday before deciding who will start in goal Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

There’s a possibility that backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson could return after missing nine games with a groin injury.

After missing 18 of the last 19 games with a groin injury, center Darren Helm returned and registered six of the team’s 23 shots.

That and Gustav Nyquist getting his first goal since Dec. 28 at Florida were the lone bright spots for the game.

"I thought we had been playing pretty well, pretty hard and pretty competitive," Babcock said. "I didn’t think we were as good (Monday night).

"Whether they were on us better, whether they we couldn’t execute out of our zone — I don’t know what part’s us and what part’s them. They were on us. They were heavy. We never got anything sustained going."

Even captain Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t manage a shot on net, which is extremely rare for him.

"We had some good shots but not on net," Zetterberg said. "I think we gotta hit the net if you want to score."

Trailing 3-1 in the second, the Wings had a chance with a two-man advantage for 1 minute, 27 seconds but only managed one shot.

"It would have been nice to get a goal there," Justin Abdelkader said. "We didn’t, unfortunately, but we still gotta be better 5-on-5, win more battles, be better on the 1-on-1 battles, whether it’s in our zone or their zone, wherever it is.

"I thought during the game we got outcompeted that way."

Several of the injured Wings — including Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Joakim Andersson and Jonathan Ericsson — headed out of the dressing room just before the media went in.

It’s not hard to imagine that the Wings could score a few more goals if those players were healthy.

Yet, they have to rely on the players who are healthy, which includes kids like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening and even Petr Mrazek, who replaced Howard in the second.

"With the group we have, we’ve just got to work hard and outcompete the team across from us because we do have a lot of young guys, a lot of young guys filling in," Abdelkader said. "But we can still get it done with this group."