The Afternoon Shift – Jan. 17

Joey MacDonald/Photo by Getty Images

Injuries and callups are facts of life in hockey. Teams hope that other players can step right in and perform, while those players try to take full advantage of their opportunities to show what they can do. For Joey MacDonald and Jordan Pearce, it’s been mission accomplished on that front of late.

Recalled by Detroit on Jan. 9 to fill in for the injured Chris Osgood, MacDonald was expected to primarily serve as Jimmy Howard’s understudy while getting the occasional start. However, when Howard left Friday’s game against Columbus early with a bruised knee, MacDonald was pressed into service for the final 52 minutes plus overtime and the shootout.

The veteran of 76 NHL games played exactly as he should, stopping all 21 shots he faced, but he took another hard-luck loss as the Wings’ shooters went 0-for-4 in the shootout in a 3-2 defeat. However, fortune finally smiled on MacDonald in Saturday’s rematch at the Joe, as he logged his first NHL win in more than a year with 25 saves in a back-and-forth, 6-5 overtime win against the Blue Jackets.

Don’t look now, but MacDonald has better numbers than either Howard or Osgood this season, albeit in a smaller body of work. In four appearances with the Wings, he shows a 2.36 GAA and a 0.907 save percentage to go with a 1-1-1 record.

Howard’s injury on Friday resulted in Saturday’s recall of Thomas McCollum, leaving the Jeopardy Dream Team tandem of Jordan Pearce (pre-med and anthropology major at Notre Dame) and Dov Grumet-Morris (government and near eastern languages and civilizations major at Harvard) to tend the nets for Grand Rapids over the weekend.

Pearce, who had stopped an AHL career-high 42 shots in Thursday’s impressive 5-2 road win over a powerful San Antonio squad, was given the chance to play the two-game set in Houston, and he did not disappoint. After making 21 stops in Saturday’s tough 2-1 loss, he helped the Griffins rally from two-goal deficits in both regulation and the shootout on Sunday for a stunning 3-2 victory over the Aeros, who squandered four consecutive opportunities to secure the win in rounds four and five of the shootout.

With the Griffins trailing the skills competition 2-0 after three rounds, Pearce stoned Jon DiSalvatore and saw Jamie Johnson beat Matt Hackett on the other end to keep the visitors alive. Houston had another two chances to win in round five, but Chad Rau couldn’t solve Pearce and Jamie Tardif scored to send the shootout to a sixth stanza.

Pearce once again came up big, stopping Colton Gilles for his third straight denial, and Chris Minard blew a rocket past Hackett to give the Griffins the improbable victory.

After allowing only two goals in each of Grand Rapids’ outings last week (2-1, 1.96 GAA, 0.935%), Pearce earned the Griffins’ nomination for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award. In 10 appearances for the club this season, he owns a 4-3-1 record with a 3.02 GAA and a team-high 0.900 save percentage.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent link:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goal:

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