DETROIT – If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s the motto the Detroit Red Wings have heading into tonight’s game at Joe Louis Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Wings will go with the same lineup they’ve used over the last two games as they look to extend their win streak to three games.
Jonas Gustavsson will get his first regular season start at Joe Louis Arena, filling in for the injured Jimmy Howard, who has a bruised left hand.
Gustavsson, who made 28 saves in Detroit’s 3-2 win over Boston on Monday, will be starting in back-to-back games for the first time since doing so with Toronto in March 2012.
“It’s good for him and it’s really good for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Gustavsson’s play against the Bruins. “Obviously, last year was probably a nightmare for him. He couldn’t get himself healthy. The bottom line is you have to look after that as a goalie, you have to be available.”
Gustavsson began the season in injured reserve with an injured groin.
He was also had a reoccurring groin problem last season, pulling it after playing only 19 minutes of relief of Howard in the season opener last year.
“This team, I mean, we need Howie to be what Howie is, so no different than their club, they need (Sergei Bobrovsky) to do his job,” Babcock said. “If those guys can get 20 quality starts out of the other guy, than they’re way better goaltenders. If you’ve got it in your mind that no you have to go every single night, that might be alright last year with 40 games or 48 games, but it would be tough going.”
Gustavsson, 28, appeared in just seven of the 48 games during the lockout-shortened year last season, making just four starts. He didn’t play over the final 27 games of the season, which included the playoffs.
Howard skated Tuesday morning, but did face any shots.
“Today was just about going out there and keeping my legs under me,” said Howard, who iced his hand quite a bit to get rid of most of the swelling. “I took some shots with Jimmy (Bedard), everything was on the ice. No sense in hitting it and having my hands swell up to where it was before. So today was just doing movements in the crease and taking shots low.”
Howard hopes to return Thursday night in Colorado.
He injured his hand in the second period on Saturday against Philadelphia and re-injured it Sunday in practice and then took three more shots off it in warmups Monday in Boston.
“That’s when it started to swell even more,” Howard said. “I don’t know how it happened. Let’s be honest, guys can really fire it nowadays. I’m already pretty much black and blue.”
Forwards Tomas Tatar and Mikael Samuelsson, along with defenseman Brendan Smith will be healthy scratches against the Blue Jackets.