Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss turns away Penguins in shootout
NEW YORK -- When they were teammates with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014-15, Sidney Crosby took hundreds of shots on Thomas Greiss in practice.
He didn’t remember the German goalie trying to stop him with a poke-check.
It was always the netminder at the other end of the practice ice, Marc-Andre Fleury, trying that old trick.
Yet there Greiss was with two minutes left in overtime Thursday night in Brooklyn, lunging far out of his crease and using his stick to knock the puck away from Crosby on a 120-foot breakaway.
It saved the game for his team, leading the New York Islanders to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Penguins at Barclays Center.
“I didn’t expect that,” Crosby said. “You still have to be ready for it, though. It’s his job to stop it, any way you can, but it still doesn’t make you feel any better. You feel like you’ve got an opportunity like that to end the game, you’ve got to put it in.”
Crosby wasn’t alone in that thought. With less than 10 seconds left in overtime, Greiss made a five-star glove save on a Phil Kessel wrist shot from the slot.
Once Greiss stopped all three attempts he faced in the shootout, the Penguins fell to 6-2-3 for the season and dropped both ends of a home and home with the Islanders.
“We like our chances when two of those guys get open looks like they did,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’re elite players that have great finishing ability. Those were two big saves for them.”
In regulation, special teams told much of the story.
On one hand, the Penguins had a strong night on the power play.
Evgeni Malkin scored a critical goal on the man-advantage with less than eight minutes to go in the third period. His one-timer from the right circle tied the score 2-2 and got the Penguins to overtime. Malkin has points in nine straight games.
Dominik Simon also scored on the power play to make it 1-0 in the first period, flicking the rebound of a Jake Guentzel shot into the top corner of the net. Simon has a five-game scoring streak.
On the other hand, the most pivotal play in the game was a short-handed goal the Islanders scored in the second period.
After a series of penalties, the Penguins were set up with 38 seconds of four-on-three time followed by 14 seconds of a five-on-three advantage.
They couldn’t get a puck past Greiss, and just as Josh Bailey left the penalty box to end the five-on-three, the Islanders blocked a Kris Letang shot. Casey Cizikas corralled the loose puck and banked a pass past Letang along the boards to spring Bailey for a breakaway. He beat goalie Matt Murray to tie the score 1-1.
“I think it’s avoidable,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to have more awareness on the ice in that circumstance.”
“You can’t give up goals like that,” Crosby said. “That was a little too easy, I think. It ends up being a big part of the game. The power play was good, got a couple goals. It wasn’t able to be the difference because of that.”
Letang made his return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game against the Islanders with a lower-body injury. He handled his customary workload, playing about 26 minutes, recording an assist and a minus-1 rating.
“A little rusty because I only skated once (since Saturday),” Letang said, “but as the game went on, I felt very comfortable.”