It doesn’t matter who the goalie is for the New York Islanders at this point, they are just going to keep shutting teams down.
Thomas Greiss stopped 36 shots and Brock Nelson scored a pair of goals for the New York Islanders on Sunday night in a 3-2 Game 4 win, giving them a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders are now just one win away from their first trip to the Conference Finals since 1993 and have a chance to punch that ticket on Tuesday night.
The Islanders turned to Greiss on Sunday since it was the second half of the back-to-back, and he stepped right into the lineup and picked right up where Semyon Varlamov left off — frustrating the Flyers’ stars.
It is not just the number of saves that Greiss made, it was also the timing of the saves and what transpired after them.
On two different occasions on Sunday he made highlight reel saves to shut down Flyers’ scoring chances that were immediately followed by Islanders goals. It happened just before Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his seventh goal of the playoffs on a breakaway, and then again in the third period just before Nelson scored his second goal of the game.
That goal goes in the books as the game-winner. That goal was also set up by slick pass by Anthony Beauvillier coming out of the Islanders’ defensive zone.
It would be easy at this point to criticize the Flyers’ top players for not doing enough (they are still struggling to score) but sometimes you have to give credit to the other team. So far this postseason the Islanders have made every top player they have run into look like they are fighting it.
Simply put, this has been an absolutely incredible run for the Islanders to this point. With Sunday’s win they have now won 11 out of 14 games since the Return To Play began and have shut down pretty much every top player — and team — they have played.
Sometimes it is through a dominant defensive effort where they simply give teams no room to create anything.
Sometimes, on the rare occasion they do have a defensive breakdown, it is because their goalies are playing out of their minds. For as good as Varlamov has played this postseason, Greiss’ effort on Sunday might have been one of their best goaltending performances of the postseason.
They are playing sound defensive hockey, they are getting goals from all over their lineup, and they have two goalies playing at an exceptionally high level. That is a pretty good recipe for success. It has the Islanders one game away from reaching a level they have not been to in more than two decades.
Given the way the Islanders played from December to March, and the way they ended the regular season, it is a massive turnaround.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (NYI lead 3-1)
Game 1: Islanders 4, Flyers 0 (recap)
Game 2: Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT) (recap)
Game 3: Islanders 3, Flyers 1 (recap)
Game 4: Islanders 3, Flyers 2
Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 5 – TBD
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• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule