If it goes as well as his first, Detroit should have a solid chance to avoid dropping a fifth straight meeting with the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Gustavsson was told shortly before game time that he would start Monday's contest against Boston as Howard nursed an unspecified injury to his glove hand. In his first action of the season, Gustavsson made 28 saves and staved off a late Bruins surge to earn a 3-2 victory.
"(I found out) maybe 15, 20 minutes before the game started," Gustavsson said. "It felt good. I was excited to play. It's always fun to go out and have your first game, especially when we have a chance to win."
Howard didn't offer a specific timetable for his return, but said it's "doubtful" that he would play Tuesday.
"We're really just going to have to wait and see," Howard said. "Hopefully, it'll heal fast."
Barring a change, Gustavsson should again be in net against Columbus. He said he settled down Monday after getting into the flow of the game quickly.
"When you get your first shots on you, you grow into the game," Gustavsson said. "I felt pretty good. The guys helped me a lot to feel good."
Detroit (4-2-0) won its second straight behind goals from Dan Cleary, Stephen Weiss and Henrik Zetterberg, who has scored in four of the last five and has a team-best five goals.
Zetterberg didn't score in five meetings with Columbus last season as the clubs battled as Central Division rivals in the Western Conference before both moved to the East prior to this season.
The Blue Jackets won the final four after an opening-night shootout defeat, with Sergei Bobrovsky going 3-0-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average in four starts against Detroit on his way to winning the Vezina Trophy.
Bobrovsky is 2-2-0 with a 2.22 GAA in four starts this season and made 33 saves in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Boston, but he allowed two goals that could be considered soft.
"I've watched Bob and I've watched him at his best. I'd assume, knowing Bob, that he'd like those two shots back," coach Todd Richards said. "I've thought the same thing every time about Bob -- he battles and he competes on everything."
Columbus (2-2-0) is beginning a stretch of three road games in six nights -- it also faces Montreal and Washington -- but it has won both of its contests away from home.
The Blue Jackets dropped 27 of their first 34 trips to Detroit before winning both meetings at Joe Louis Arena last season.
Columbus will be without winger Matt Calvert, who underwent surgery to repair an abdominal injury suffered Thursday at Buffalo and is expected to be out approximately six weeks.
Blake Comeau's status is also in doubt. The winger suffered a cut above his ankle from a Bruins skate Saturday.
"As a coach, these are the things that you expect to happen in games, and that's injuries in general," Richards told the team's official website. "You expect some bangs here and some nicks there."
Columbus leading scorer Marian Gaborik has five goals and seven assists in 13 career games at Detroit.