Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith did his best to lift the spirits of struggling goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Howard deemed Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets as "unacceptable" after he was relieved in the second period for the second consecutive start. While the veteran netminder yielded four goals on 14 shots, Smith told reporters that the team needs to play better in front of him.
Defensive letdowns notwithstanding, Howard has permitted seven goals on 20 shots in 36 minutes over his last two starts.
The 31-year-old has limped to a 7-5-4 mark with a 2.66 goals-against average for the Red Wings (18-12-4), who have dropped six of their last eight outings (2-4-2).