Just as their backup goaltender returned, their starter left with an injury.

The Detroit Red Wings, whose season has been defined by a decimated lineup, saw Jimmy Howard leave in the first period of Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Howard experienced blurry vision, general manager Ken Holland said, after getting hit during practice. "I didn't know about that," Mike Babcock said. "He wasn't seeing good or something like that.

"He'll get tested tomorrow, we'll find out more."

None of Howard's teammates seemed aware of what happened, either.

"It happened really quick," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We didn't really know why. I'm not sure really what happened."

Mikael Samuelsson missed the game with a sore hand after getting hit by Ian White's shot during the morning skate. Samuelsson had only just returned from a groin injury.

Half the team has been injured and the season is only a month old. Johan Franzen missed his fourth game because of a hip flexor but he said he should be ready to play Thursday. Defenseman Brendan Smith, who hurt a shoulder Feb. 2, is aiming for next week. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, also sidelined by a shoulder injury, has also been skating and is nearing a return.

The worst of the bunch remain the two forwards who are dealing with back pain. Darren Helm is skulking around with the team but not practicing, while Todd Bertuzzi is in such bad shape he's basically on bed-rest.

"You can't let it get to you," Zetterberg said. "Injuries are part of the game. Unfortunately, we have a lot. We've just got to battle through it."