Leaving the ice clutching his left shoulder in pain on Saturday night is not the way Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to remember his 27th birthday.

Fortunately, he received a belated present on Sunday, when an MRI revealed no damage.

Howard said he "dodged a bullet," escaping with only a sprained shoulder when Toronto's Joffrey Lupul fell on him. Howard is confident he will be ready when the playoffs start in a little more than two weeks. He said he hopes to return Wednesday at home against St. Louis. But that seems unlikely, as the club will proceed with caution.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Howard is "going to take a little break," starting with tonight's game against Chicago at Joe Louis Arena. Joey MacDonald has the reins until Howard returns. Former first-round draft pick Thomas McCollum was recalled from the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) to serve as the backup.

"I don't know exactly when he'll be back," Babcock said. "Just like any player who's got an injury, he's got to get back healthy and get playing. Ideally, it won't be very long."

While his teammates practiced Sunday afternoon, Howard was in the training room receiving treatment and icing the shoulder.

"I was just hoping it wasn't anything serious and it wasn't," Howard said. "My arm just got caught underneath (Lupul). Where my glove was, my arm didn't really spread out, and he just landed on my shoulder.

"It was an unfortunate occurrence. It was just a hockey play. He was going to the net, trying to create havoc. I watched it on replay. It was a pretty good play, sitting on his rear end (to) still put (the puck) in."

The Red Wings have seven games remaining, three against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who are fighting to make the playoffs.

"We got enough games left," Howard said. "Still a couple of weeks away. I'm going to do the best I can to get back as soon as possible."