Thomas Greiss made his first start between the pipes for the Islanders this postseason, and several Islanders skaters credited the goalie for the momentum they took into the third period, in which they registered two goals to secure the win.
The German netminder kept the Islanders competitive with several key saves as the Flyers dominated throughout the second period in the Islanders’ 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
Though his only real game action this postseason came after he replaced usual starter Semyon Varlamov for the remainder of Game 2 of this series, Greiss said he is just keeping a simple mindset.
“Just stop the puck,” he said on a Zoom call following the win. “There’s not much going on. It’s not rocket science out there.”
It was Greiss’ first start since a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Hurricanes on March 7. He had stopped the first 20 shots he faced in Sunday’s matchup, but finished with 36 saves on 38 shots.
After Jordan Eberle recorded a quality chance early in the second, Flyers second-line winger Joel Farabee responded for his team with a slick shot around Ryan Pulock that reached Greiss, who gave up the rebound before quickly covering it up. Travis Sanheim then hit the post before Greiss managed to sit on and call off the play.
The 34-year-old Greiss then came up with a big glove save on Claude Giroux, who is still looking for his first goal of the postseason, with 2:35 left before the second intermission. As seconds ticked down on the clock, Greiss posted clutch back-to-back saves on James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.
“Greisser made quite a few big stops to keep us in it,” said Brock Nelson, who notched two goals in the win. “When you have that, it gives the group confidence that you’re still in it and can still win it in the third.”
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz likely made the goaltending adjustment because Game 3 and 4 were back-to-back after a two-day pause in both NHL bubbles to stand in solidarity with the ongoing racial injustice protests.
“Tonight, he was outstanding,” Trotz said. “Second period, he was unbelievable, third period, he was the same. You talk about key stops at key times, he made them.”
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault also opted to pull his starting goaltender Carter Hart for backup Brian Elliott in Sunday’s game.
Hart has been outstanding for the Flyers so far this postseason, posting a 7-4 record with a 2.08 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. Elliott kept the Flyers competitive throughout Sunday’s game, turning aside 30 of the 33 shots he faced.
With an assist on Nelson’s first goal, Josh Bailey now has a team-high 10 apples this postseason, the most by an Islander since Derek King had 11 during the 1993 playoffs.