There wasn’t one New York Islanders player who addressed the media on Sunday night that didn’t mention goalie Thomas Greiss and his big-time performance.
The 34-year-old netminder got the start in Game 4 and helped backstop the Islanders to a 3-2 win and a 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. Greiss was one of the best players in an Islanders uniform on Sunday night. He made 36 saves and including tough stops in the most crucial moments.
One of Greiss’ biggest saves came in the second period with the game tied 1-1. A shot from James van Riemsdyk in close was stopped by the Islanders netminder, but the rebound came back for Jakub Voracek to put a dangerous chance on net.
Greiss made the stop despite being down to keep the game tied with 8.7 left in the second period.
— #StanleyCup Playoffs on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 31, 2020
“Tonight he was outstanding,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “The second period he was unbelievable and in the third period, he was the same. You talk about key stops at key times he made them.”
Earlier in the game Greiss, was instrumental in keeping the Flyers power play at bay, again making the big stops at the right times.
Greiss has seen limited action in the postseason this year. He appeared in the July 29 exhibition game against the New York Rangers and then didn’t play again until Game 2 on Wednesday, when he came in for Semyon Varlamov in the first period.
Despite the long layoff between games he played in, Greiss remained steady throughout the 60-minute contest. Greiss was made aware that he would be starting Game 4 on Saturday night after their 3-1 win over the Flyers in Game 3.
He said his mentality didn’t change when he was in between the pipes.
“Just stop the puck,” Greiss said about his mindset. “There’s not much else going on. It’s not rocket science out there.”
Trotz has often talked about his trust in both of the goaltenders he has. That was clearly on display when the Islanders bench boss made the decision to go with Greiss in Game 4.
Sunday’s matchup was the second game of a back-to-back for the Islanders and Trotz did not want to overwhelm Semyon Varlamov.
“I just thought the back to back was going to be too much and I have confidence in both goalies,” Trotz said. “I had to make the decision coming out of Phase one of who I would start and Varly seemed to carry the ball. He seemed to be in a little bit of a zone, so we rode him awhile. I knew that both goaltenders would be part of the solution.
“Tonight there is no question Greisser was a big part of the solution.”
“Our group understands that you go the distance on everything. You saw that when we were down 3 pucks the other right and we pulled it off to get it to overtime. It’s a room that understands that you have to go the distance and that distance is the final buzzer.” pic.twitter.com/YM1LEDgebe
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 31, 2020
And that was echoed by everyone who stepped up to the podium on Sunday night.
The 36 shots that Greiss stopped in the win are the most among any Islanders netminder this postseason and the 38 shots the Islanders allowed were the most during the playoffs this year. Game 4 marked the first postseason start for Greiss since May 8, 2016.
“Not the easiest of spots. It’s been some time since he’s played a game,” Brock Nelson said “Stepping in getting the start he raised his level and won us a game. He’s a great guy to have around. In practice, he battles. He’s having fun. He’s joking with the guys, but he goes out there and executes and makes the save. When he’s in there we have all the confidence in him.”
The Islanders will a day before they look to finish off the Flyers in Game 5. Trotz now has a decision to make whether to return to Varlamov or give Griess his second start of the playoffs.
It’s a decision that Greiss does not envy Trotz having to make.
“Varly has played unreal. I don’t think there’s much debate,” Greiss said.