DETROIT -- If this was Joey MacDonald's swan song for this season, he certainly went out on a strong note.
MacDonald had to make 31 saves, some of them spectacular, to help the Red Wings defeat their nemesis, the San Jose Sharks, 3-2, and extend their NHL record home win streak to 23 games.
Although it might not sound all that impressive when you consider the overall home win streak, the Wings went 6-0 on the home stand. That's kind of rare in itself.
"It's great to be the guy to get thrown in there every single night, to take some of the pressure off Howie (Jimmy Howard) for a little bit," MacDonald said. "Howie's been playing a lot, he had quite a streak going.
"He'll be back here the next game and just got to keep building on it and be ready for my next start."
When the season is over and done, we might look back and say MacDonald's biggest contribution was buying Howard extra time to recover from his broken right index finger.
Had MacDonald faltered, the Wings might have been tempted to try to rush Howard back before he was fully ready.
The Wings say they haven't decided what they might do now, but based on MacDonald's performance, they might place Ty Conklin on waivers and see if he clears. If he does, they could send him to Grand Rapids rather than MacDonald.
"We haven't talked about it, Kenny Holland and myself, but Mac has done a real good job for us," coach Mike Babcock said. "Howie's playing in Chicago. If things weren't going good, Howie would have been in two or three games earlier.
"Why would we? We gave him more time to get better. It's worked out real well."
You can't underestimate how difficult it is to beat the Sharks, even though they have a 31-19-7 record and 69 points to the Wings' 41-17-2 record and 84 points.
But in addition to the playoff torment the Sharks have handed the Wings the last two seasons, they had also beaten the Wings five straight times in the regular season before Sunday.
"They throw a lot on net, bad-angle shots," MacDonald said. "They got big guys in front. They win a lot of battles.
"With that team, they got big guys and they battle. We did a good job of taking away their second chances and limiting them."
Although he scored one of the Sharks' goals, Logan Couture had praise for MacDonald.
"He played well," Couture said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have some chances back, as would a lot of guys in this room."
Drew Miller, who got the Wings' second goal in the second period and assisted on Darren Helm's game-winner in the third, believes MacDonald's familiarity with the Wings helped him jump right in when they needed him.
"He's not new to our team," Miller said. "He's been around and the guys know him really well, so it's not like he's coming to a new team where he doesn't know anyone, doesn't feel comfortable.
"I think that helped a lot. He's playing strong right now, so it's really good for him and good for our team."
MacDonald's numbers speak for themselves. He has a 6-1-1 record with a 1.66 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
Despite all of that success, MacDonald knows his role is that of a backup and that he doesn't have a say in where he ends up the rest of the season.
"Its out of my control," MacDonald acknowledged. "Whatever decisions that they make, Ill be happy with it.
"To come up here and play as much as I did -- all but one period -- it looks good on me if Im the second guy or the third guy. Theres not a whole lot I can do now."
Wings fans have traditionally had a love-hate relationship with the starting goaltender. But Howard has had such an outstanding season that they were devastated when he was injured.
Still, the Joe Louis Arena crowd made sure to show MacDonald their respect for the way he has performed in Howard's absence.
After MacDonald stopped Jason Demers on a near breakaway, the fans chanted, "Joey! Joey! Joey!"
"It's nice when you get 20,000 people chanting your name," MacDonald said. "It doesn't happen too often, especially in a building like this, with so many great players coming through.
"To get that, it kind of tickles me. It's awesome. Hopefully, I can keep going the way I've been going."
If Sunday was MacDonald's last start of the season for the Wings -- and it might not be -- he can certainly say that he did everything he could while he was here.
"As a backup goalie, that's your job, you got to be ready at all times," MacDonald said. "If it's three or four games, whatever it is, I think I proved here I can play."