Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard took the next step in his injury recovery with a rehab-assigned game with the Grand Rapids Griffins, with whom he played for several seasons before being promoted to Red Wings starter.
However, the Griffins found themselves down early. The Milwaukee Admirals scored on two of their first three shots of the game en route to a 5-4 victory. It was Howard’s first game since being injured against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 20.
“You know, you can practice but as soon as you get into a game, all that emotion out there, it was a real battle out there to find the puck,” Howard said after the game.
“I knew it was going to be hard out there. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Just part of the process. I haven’t played in six and a half weeks. No excuses but at the same time, just to get back out there. My knee felt fine – actually my body felt really fine it was just tracking the puck out there.”
Howard reported no problems with his injured knee and grew more comfortable as the game went on.
“This is just part of the process,” Howard said, “and I wish I just I could have kept a couple of them out of the net because when you score four goals you deserve to win.”
He could be set to make a second start with the Griffins on Wednesday before coming back to Detroit. Howard is the Griffins’ all-time leader in several categories. Despite the loss, he appreciated being back.
“It was a lot of fun,” Howard said. “It was a honor to get to go back out there and play again in the Griffins jersey.”