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A first time for everything

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Joey MacDonald gets his first start with the Red Wings in 11 months when he faces the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)
GLENDALE, Arizona –There’s nothing worse for a third-string goaltender then getting called up and sitting at the end of an NHL bench for 60-minutes – maybe more – in a backup role.

Fortunately for Joey MacDonald his wait was significantly less as he entered last Saturday’s game at the start of the second period at Edmonton. He' get his first NHL start of the season Monday when the Red Wings wrap-up a four-game road trip with a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. 

“Whenever you come up and get a chance to play in a couple of games right away, that's what you want,” said MacDonald, who relieved Ty Conklin after the Oilers raced to a 3-1 lead. “You don't want to be sitting around and watching. You want to get right in there.

“I think last game was a great example, get right in there and give the team a chance to win. Same thing tonight, just hold the fort. You know these guys are going to come out hard.”

Tonight’s game at Phoenix will mark MacDonald’s first NHL start since last March, when the Wings dropped a 10-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues.

It's also the first time that the soon-to-be 32-year-old goaltender (his birthday is Tuesday) has ever faced the Coyotes. 

Last July, MacDonald signed a two-year contract to remain in the organization with the hopes of getting a shot to return to the NHL.

“That's why I signed here, it's an opportunity to take advantage of it,” he said. “I didn't sign to be down in Grand Rapids. You got to keep working hard wherever you are and when you get the opportunity take advantage of it.”

With All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard possibly on the shelf for two weeks with a fractured right index finger, MacDonald wants to show that he can be a suitable alternative in the meantime.

The journeyman goaltender is in his second stint with the Wings. Last season he appeared in 15 games and posted a 5-5-3 record with a 2.58 goals-against average.

On Saturday, he helped keep the Wings in the game against the speedy Oilers, who cruised to a 3-1 lead. The Wings managed to storm back to take a 4-3 lead, before the Oilers tied the game, forcing overtime and eventually a shoot-out where the home team won.

“When you get an opportunity to play, even if it's down in Grand Rapids, you get in a groove,” MacDonald said. “Playing eight or 10 in a row down there, you can come here and jump into a game right away, makes it a little easier.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill
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