Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/7/13
DETROIT Sometimes one game, one solid performance, one game changing moment can transform the course of an athletes career. Melodramatic, perhaps, but Jimmy Howard not only needed a win in a must-win situation, he needed to be the difference maker. We can harp all we want on the Red Wings rookies coming of age Monday night, in Detroits gripping 3-2 overtime victory against Anaheim. However, it was Detroits goalie that stood the tallest in the end. Entering Mondays game, Howard had been anything but spectacular in the playoffs. He record was 1-2 with a 3.33 GAA and a .885 SV, which placed him near the bottom in all goaltending categories. I wanted to give the guys a chance to win, they deserved that, said Howard after the game where he stopped 31 of 33 shots fired his way. There were a couple of games there where I wasnt myself and I felt tonight I needed to go out there and prove myself all over again to the guys. And maybe prove something to himself and his critics. For his career, Howard has established himself as goalie that could handle the rigors of the regular season. So much so that the Wings inked him to a six- year, 31.8 million contract extension just prior to the playoffs beginning. However, a goalie earns his salary during the regular season, but makes his name during the playoffs. Thus far, saying that Howards career playoff numbers have been mediocre may be a little too kind. In 31 games played (before Monday) his record was 14-17, with 2.70 GAA, a .912 SV and one shutout. In playoffs all it takes is for a goalie to get hot and anything can happen, said Howard. Its upon me to go out there and make saves for the guys. While Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller faced a steady onslaught of Red Wings shots, it was Howard who had to make the tougher stops as the Wings had several defensive lapses that lead to a plethora of odd man rushes and a few breakaways. You need your goalie to be a star in the playoffs for your team to have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. Monday night Jimmy Howard took a gigantic step to one day leading his team to the silver chalice.
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