Detroit — Goalie Thomas Greiss hadn’t been between the pipes in a game for the Detroit Red Wings in five weeks, but he didn’t show many signs of rust in Saturday afternoon’s start against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Greiss made 32 saves as the Red Wings got one goal each from Tyler Bertuzzi (No. 23), Filip Zadina (No. 6), Moritz Seider (No. 5) and Michael Rasmussen (No. 6) to come out on top, 4-2.
Dylan Larkin had three assists, and has 25 on the season to go with 24 goals for 49 points. He leads Detroit in each of those offensive categories.
Greiss hadn’t played since Jan. 9, having spent 10 days in COVID protocols and also playing behind starter Alex Nedeljkovic.
“I thought Greiss played really, really well,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought he played really good coming back. He was in control of his game, and controlled rebounds. He looked terrific.”
Larkin added, “You know, he hasn’t played in a while, and he’ll tell you his rhythm was off a little bit. But he looked great tonight — he looked confident and was solid — and we’re going to need both those guys going ahead.”
Blashill was asked what enabled Greiss to stay sharp after such a long layoff from game action.
“He’s a really even-keel person,” said Blashill. “He’s not super excitable. He doesn’t have big highs and lows. With the long layoff, I think he’s a really good professional. He went to work with our goalie coach (Jeff Salajko), who does a great job, and has a great approach, and made sure he was ready for that team.
“He’d have liked to have this opportunity earlier, but that’s how things worked out after the (All-Star Game) break, and he stepped in tonight and played really well. He works really hard at his game and made sure he was ready.”
Greiss lowered his goals-against average to 3.27 and raised his save percentage to .898 through 17 games with a 7-7-1 record.
Nedeljkovic is at 2.91, .910 and 14-13-5.
Greiss made a well-timed pad save while going down to stop a shot midway through the third period that brought loud cheers from the Detroit faithful at Little Caesars Arena. It was the last really good chance the Flyers had to keep Detroit from beating them for the second time in four days.
His best stop came, ironically, on a play that prompted a power-play opportunity that the Flyers capitalized on.
Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal was called for hooking Scott Laughton on a breakaway. Laughton kept his balance and shot low and to the right, but Greiss got down to make the pad save that electrified the crowd.
Philadelphia defenseman Keith Yandle then scored on the power play for his first goal of the season on a shot out in front when Flyers left wing Isaac Ratcliffe (6-foot-6, 200 pounds) blocked Greiss’ full view and Rasmussen couldn’t quite block the shot.
It was as heart-breaker, coming with eight seconds remaining in the second period, but the Flyers never could score a game-tying goal in this one. Laughton’s even-strength goal at 9:49 of the third period cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2.
The Red Wings kept paying dividends on the recent line changes by Blashill on both goals that put them ahead, 2-0.
Left wing Zadina, added two games ago to the No. 1 line centered by Dylan Larkin that includes right wing Lucas Raymond, scored at 9:37 of the second period.
Larkin skated nearly the full length of the rink before setting up Zadina for a wrister that went top shelf and to goalie Carter Hart’s right stick side. Staal also was credited with an assist.
Bertuzzi opened the scoring at 5:36 of the first period after taking a centering pass from the left corner from left wing Robby Fabbri and banging a shot past Hart. Center Pius Suter assisted as well.
Blashill put Bertuzzi, Fabbri and Suter together on what’s come to be known as the “Guelph Line” on Jan. 15, and they’ve given Detroit better scoring balance while taking the pressure off Larkin’s line.
Seider made it a two-goal lead once again at 9:05 of the third period on a power play. He leads all rookie defensemen with 32 points, and is now tied with Colorado’s Bowen Byram for the most goals by a rookie blue-liner with five.
Rasmussen added an empty-net goal with 1:40 remaining in the game with assists from Larkin and Sam Gagner.
Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.