Howard ‘dodge a bullet’

DETROIT – In Jimmy Howard’s own words, he ‘dodged a bullet.’

Red Wing fans, teammates, coaches and management can all now breathe a sigh of relief.

“I was just hoping it wasn’t anything serious and it wasn’t,” Howard said Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. “The MRI came back, it was fine, just a sprain.”

Howard’s injury is a sprained left shoulder, which occurred when Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul collided with the Wings’ netminder at the top of the crease and then fell on his shoulder while he was on the ice.

An MRI revealed no damage.

“My arm just got caught underneath him, where my glove was, my arm didn’t really spread out and he just landed on my shoulder,” Howard said. “It’s a tough play. I was coming out to cut down the angle.

“It was an unfortunate occurrence,” Howard added. “It was just a hockey play. He was going to the net, trying to create havoc. I watched it on replay. It was a pretty good play, sitting on his rear end to still put it in.”

Lupul scored on the play, whirling the puck into the open net while on top of Howard.

“If it was (Tomas Holmstrom) to fall on him it would have been (goalie interference),” said Kris Draper, who was tied up with Lupul in front of Howard on the play. “I was just trying to find the puck. I definitely didn’t push him onto Howie.

“Like I said, if that’s Homer falling on the guy this thing’s getting reviewed and it’s probably not a goal,” Draper added.

Howard said he hopes to return for Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, which seems highly unlikely.

He will be back for sure by the playoffs.

“I’ll be ready for the playoffs,” Howard said. “We’ve got enough games left. They’re still a couple of weeks away. I’m going to do the best I can to try to get back as soon as possible. Icing it like crazy and continue to work with (trainers).”

Detroit is already without Chris Osgood who was placed on long-term injured reserve earlier in the week. He won’t be eligible to play in a game until the second to last game of the regular season.

“When you have one guy out already and then your starting goalie goes out, that’s a concern,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s always a concern when a goalie goes out.”

The Wings recalled Thomas McCollum from Toledo. He’ll dress as Joey MacDonald’s backup Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Jimmy is going to take a little break,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know exactly when he’ll be back. The bottom line, just like any other player who’s got an injury, he’s got to get back and get healthy and get playing. Ideally it won’t be very long.”

McCollum, who was Detroit’s top pick in the 2008 entry draft, struggled with Grand Rapids this season going 6-11-2 with a 3.18 goals against average and a save percentage of .881.

His numbers with the Walleye are better, 11-8-2, with a 2.69 GAA and .911 save percentage.

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