Goaltender Chad Johnson is on his way to join the Pirates’ NHL parent club, Phoenix Coyotes, in San Jose, California in time for Thursday night’s game against the Sharks.
The emergency recall was prompted by Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith going down with an injury midway through the first period of Wednesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Smith is listed day-to-day with a lower body injury; however, he will travel with the team to California as Coyotes’ head coach Dave Tippett doesn’t believe it will be long term.
“Lower body. Day-to-day,” said Tippett. “He’ll come with us on the trip, but I’m not sure where he’ll be tomorrow. There will be an emergency call up just in case (Smith) can’t (play).”
“The trainers came to me after warm up and said (Smith) is a little tight, you might want to keep an eye on him. ‘A little tight’ turned into ‘can’t play’.”
As a result of the transaction, the Pirates, who left after practice Thursday for Providence, Rhode Island for a game Friday night against the Providence Bruins, have recalled Mike Lee from its’ ECHL affiliate, Gwinnett Gladiators.
In his rookie season, Lee has appeared in 25 games for the Gladiators, recording a 12-11-1 record with a 2.13 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage.
Lee, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Roseau, Minnesota, was named to the 2012-’13 ECHL All-Star team that played the Colorado Eagles’ All-Star team Wednesday night, winning 7-3. Lee played one period, stopping 18 of 19 shots.
Lee has one appearance in a game for the Pirates this season, back on Dec. 8, coming for relief of Mark Visentin where he backstopped the Pirates to a come-from-behind win, 4-3 in a shootout over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with 28 saves, earning his first AHL career win.
Smith was replaced by Jason LaBarbera at the 11 minutes into the first period and backstopped the Coyotes with 21 saves in a 5-1 victory.
LaBarbera had sensed that Smith not be able to finish the game.
“I knew he had done a little something in the warm up,” said LaBarbera, “So I just tried to get myself as ready as possible.”
Johnson has appeared in 24 games for the Pirates this season, posting a 14-8-0 record with a 2.80GAA and a .912 save percentage.
The Coyotes also recalled defenseman David Rundblad from the Pirates. Rundblad leads all defensemen on the Pirates in scoring with 23 points (6g, 17a) in 32 games and joins Johnson, defenseman Michael Stone, forwards Alexandre Bolduc and Chris Brown, who was assigned to the Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League. To make room for Rundblad on the Coyotes’ roster, Rostislav Klesla was placed on injured reserve.