Darren Helm scored a goal and added an assist for the Wings, who have won four of their last five while trying to keep pace with Chicago and Nashville in the Central.
Patrick Marleau scored the only goal for the Sharks, who lost for the second time in three games. Evgeni Nabokov allowed four goals on 22 shots.
Marleau's first-period goal put the Pacific-leading Sharks ahead 1-0, but Detroit answered with three goals in the second period and Helm added an unassisted goal in the third.
Howard, meanwhile, withstood 10 shots in the second period and 13 in the third. San Jose outshot the Wings 32-22 for the game.