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DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - The Detroit Red Wings couldn't break the Blues, and couldn't contain them, either.

A power play goal was the sole boost the Wings could take from a 4-1 schooling at the hands of the Blues Monday at Joe Louis Arena, where the Wings dropped to 7-11-7. It's 12th time in 49 games this season the Wings have been held to one goal or less.

Jimmy Howard left midway through the game with what was announced as a lower-body injury. It was only just last week he said he was finally free of nagging knee and hip-flexor pain. If it's serious, it brings the Wings back up to eight regulars sidelined by injury. Darren Helm returned Monday after missing 18 of the previous 19 games. Jonas Gustavsson estimated he'd be ready Wednesday, so and he and Petr Mrazek may tandem.

The Wings came out of the first period with a 1-1 game, which had a great deal to do with Howard. He made eight saves the first six minutes, and 17 total during the period. At one point, shots were 8-1. Magnus Paajarvi gave the Blues a lead on their 13th shot, at 11:19, when his shot went of Howard's skate and ricocheted into the net.

After doing very little on their first power play - Daniel Cleary had a better chance during a penalty kill when he got a breakaway - the Wings converted 22 seconds into their second one. Henrik Zetterberg batted a puck towards the middle, where Riley Sheahan knocked the puck down and threw it on net. Gustav Nyquist, showing great patience, scooped up the loose puck and waited till he had a good opening before beating Jaroslav Halak.

The Wings looked at a 1:46 man advantage to start the second period, something every team likes because of the fresh ice. But then Tomas Jurco went off for tripping, and Barret Jackman scored during four-on-four play, firing through traffic. By three minutes into that confidence-boosting 1-1 first period was a deflating 3-1 deficit, with Kevin Shattenkirk using David Backes as a screen to score at 2:21.

When a TV timeout midway through the second period ended, it was Mrazek who skated out to take over in net, with Howard having made 22 saves through 30:44. Information wasn't immediately available, but Howard had to either have gotten hurt or sick, because he wasn't the reason the Wings trailed. He couldn't see either of the last two goals.

The Blues continued to work the puck down low, sending five shots on Mrazek to reach 30 after two periods. Halak had seen 13 shots.

There was little battle level left for the third period, especially after Jay Bouwmeester made it a 4-1 game when his shot went in off Sheahan's pants two minutes into the period.

The Wings remained stuck at 52 points, out of the wild-card playoff picture, with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks next up on the schedule.

Contact Helene St. James: hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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