Had Tuesday been a playoff game Howard says he would have played

DETROIT >> If Tuesday was a playoff game against the Buffalo Sabres Jimmy Howard would have been between the pipes.

The game wasn’t so Howard sat out a second straight game with a groin injury.

“Better to miss one than try to force in one and be out for three to four weeks,” Howard said Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “Just precautionary and pick up where we left off in Ottawa.

“I haven’t had any setbacks, so it’s nice and it’s comforting,” Howard added.

Howard, who left Friday’s game after one period, said the plan is for him to return Saturday in Ottawa.

“Got three days off just like the rest of us,” Howard said. “I had a good work day yesterday, I had another one today. Come down here and work out during the game and then I’ll just work out over the break. I’ll get away from skating just like everyone else and just get ready for after Christmas.”

Because of the league shutting down for the next three days for Christmas, sitting Howard out Tuesday just made even more sense.

“I think that’s the biggest key, just letting it rest,” Howard said. “It wasn’t that serious, just a tweak. Just give it a rest since we’ve got the Christmas break coming up there and get right back at it after the break.”

Howard was injured lunging for a loose puck that eventually found its way in the back of the net.

“I felt it exactly when it happened,” Howard said. “I knew something was wrong. It was one of those things where I finished the period. It didn’t feel like it was going away, but it didn’t feel like it was getting worse. I talked to the trainers after the first period and thought it was more beneficial for me and the team that I came out.”

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