Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard is close to returning from a broken right index finger sustained on Feb. 2. Coach Mike Babcock has penciled him in to start Sunday against San Jose, and didn’t rule out the possibility that he could return Friday vs. Nashville. Howard said he is feeling much better after taking shots in practice several days in a row. Howard, who said his conditioning is fine, will play with a regular stick, not the one with the notch cut out for his finger, which he had been using.

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