Malhotra picked up a shorthanded goal as well as a power play goal and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves to help Vancouver to their sixth straight win.
Niklas Kronwall scored twice and Howard stopped 28 shots for Detroit, which dropped the final game of a three-game western Canada swing. Howard lost in regulation for the first time in 23 regular season games, a stretch dating back to last season.
Kronwall gave Detroit the lead twice, but the Red Wings were unable to hold it both times. Kronwall put Detroit up 2-1 in the second period, stuffing in his own rebound on an odd-man rush after blasting the initial shot wide of the goal.
Then with the score knotted at three, Kronwall whipped a hard wrist shot over Luongo’s glove 1:40 into the third to give the Red Wings a brief 4-3 lead.
Vancouver wouldn’t let up though. Jannik Hansen tied the score just 2:08 later, depositing a loose puck into the net after Howard had kicked a rebound into the center of the ice. Alexander Edler gave the Canucks the lead for good midway through the frame, taking a feed from Ryan Kesler through two Red Wings and firing a blue-line shot over Howard’s glove on the power play.
Detroit was plagued with bad defensive play right from the end of the first period, giving up a late goal to Daniel Sedin with 25 seconds left in the frame. The Red Wings were out-shot 23-7 in the third period after allowing 11 total through the first two periods
It looked like they might overcome the late goal when Dan Cleary let a centering feed from Justin Abdelkader bounce off his hip and past Luongo to tie the game at one 2:51 into the second period.
After Kronwall gave Detroit a 2-1 lead, former Red Wing Mikael Sammuelsson tied the score again, tipping in a bad angle shot by Tanner Glass.
Malhotra then lit the lamp for the first time, taking advantage of a Pavel Datsyuk giveaway at the Vancouver blue line. Malhotra capitalized on the ensuing breakaway, lifting the puck into the top corner for a short-handed tally that put the Canucks up 3-2.
It didn’t last long. Jonathan Ericsson ripped a shot from the blue line past a screened Luongo on the power play to tie the game just over a minute later.