Howard, Red Wings host playoff-hopeful Jets

( - Jimmy Howard will get his first start in a month when the Detroit Red Wings host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Petr Mrazek did a superb job filling in for Howard, who suffered a torn groin on Jan. 10 in Washington and missed the next 11 games. Mrazek started all 11 tests for Detroit while its No. 1 goaltender was on the shelf, logging a personal 8-2-0 record over that span.

Howard suited up for the first time since his injury on Wednesday when the Red Wings visited Pittsburgh. He entered the game for the third period after Mrazek was pulled from the 4-1 loss. Mrazek yielded four goals on 17 shots, while Howard stopped all four shots sent his way in relief.

The loss in the Steel City dropped the Red Wings to 14-5-0 over their last 19 games. Detroit entered the game with three straight wins and was victorious in nine of its previous 10 games.

Stephen Weiss scored in the second for Detroit's lone goal on Wednesday.

"They were good and we were bad," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "They competed and we stood around."

Howard will try to improve his career numbers against Winnipeg when he starts tonight. He is 1-3-1 with a 3.15 goals against average in six career outings against the Jets.

Detroit will shoot for a seventh straight home victory. Babcock's club is 17-4-6 at the Joe and hasn't suffered a defeat in the Motor City since losing a shootout decision to Colorado on Dec. 21.

The Red Wings enter Saturday in third place in the Atlantic Division. They are only three points behind Montreal and Tampa Bay for the top spot.

Winnipeg is holding onto the first wild card spot in the Western Conference with 66 points, three more than Calgary. The Jets also sit five ahead of Minnesota, which is just outside the conference playoff picture.

The Jets have lost seven of their last nine games, but they have managed to record a point in five straight tilts (2-0-3). Winnipeg had a two-game win streak snapped with Thursday's 3-1 setback in Nashville.

Pekka Rinne frustrated Winnipeg's offense with a 32-save performance on Thursday. Michael Frolik supplied Winnipeg's lone marker and Ondrej Pavelec allowed three goals on 26 shots in defeat.

"I liked a lot of things we did except the result," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said.

Defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford made their Winnipeg debuts after coming over in a blockbuster trade that shipped forward Evander Kane to Buffalo.

Stafford took a tripping penalty and had two shots in 14:25 of ice time, while Myers blocked a shot and fired one of his own in 21:23. Myers limped off the ice late in the third after blocking a shot and went to the locker room. He is expected to play in tonight's game.

Detroit posted a 4-3 victory in Winnipeg on Nov. 20. The Red Wings had won just one of the previous five meetings between the clubs.