Goalie Howard relishes return to TD Garden

BOSTON — TD Garden has been a place of both agony and ecstasy for goaltender Jimmy Howard, since he first set foot in the place nearly 10 years ago.
Mostly it was the latter, and mostly during his stay at the University of Maine.
In 2004 alone, he had the high of being the winning goalie in Maine’s triple overtime triumph over UMass in the Hockey East championship game, to the heartbreak of being the losing goalie in a 1-0 Frozen Four title game to Denver.
Needless to say, the building holds a certain place in his heart, a place that took on even more significance, Friday afternoon.
Now the No. 1 goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, Howard outdueled Boston’s Tuukka Rask in the Wings’ 3-2 shootout win, in a “Thanksgiving Showdown” contest that lived up to all the hype that NBC could muster.
The perennial Cup contenders from Motown and the reigning Cup champions from Beantown.
Who knows, it might have even been a Stanley Cup Final preview.
“I think we appreciate how energized this crowd was,” said Howard, whom the Red Wings drafted in the second round back in 2003, when he was still a freshman in Orono. “It was playoff atmosphere out there. It makes it that much more fun to play.”
It’s more fun when you win of course, which Howard did more of than not in this building.
“I had a lot of special memories here,” he said. “The triple overtime win. The national championship game. It was always fun because back in college, you always aim to get here in the spring time.”
Who knows, he might just spend one more spring break in Boston. This time, with a Stanley Cup on the line.