NEW YORK — Thomas Greiss smiled as he sat down.
“I made it,” he said, having found the energy to walk to the postgame interview room at Madison Square Garden following a masterful performance that edged the Detroit Red Wings (23-22-6) closer to a wild-card playoff spot. Greiss made 37 saves through overtime and then dealt with six attempts in a shootout to come away with a 3-2 victory Thursday.
“I like playing here, it’s a good building, good atmosphere,” Greiss said. “It’s a good team. It was a fun game.
“It was a big win. Overall as a team, we made a big step here. It was good to see.”
THURSDAY’s GAME: Wings’ Greiss solid all night in 3-2 shootout win at Rangers
The win improved the Wings’ road record to 8-13-3. Their 52 points overall sit six behind Boston, but the Bruins have three games in hand.
The Wings led 1-0 on a goal from Troy Stecher and 2-1 on a goal from Dylan Larkin. They had a lead in Monday’s game at Minnesota, only to lose — but Greiss’ goaltending helped the Wings have a Garden party.
“Greisser played real good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “There were a lot of chances out there. They’re a very, very high-octane team.
“There’s a lot of things we can get better at, but to come on the road and find ways to win, we did that against a real good team in a great environment. We’ll take the two points.”
It was Greiss’ second start in three games after being off for a month.
“It was a nice little break there,” Greiss said. “I had COVID for 10 days and then the All-Star break right after that. It was nice to get a break and regroup.”
Blashill noted Greiss, 36, is “ultimately better with more rest. When he gets run out there every other night, it’s harder.”
Blashill began the season alternating Greiss and Alex Nedeljkovic in net, but began leaning heavily on Nedeljkovic in mid-November. After playing Nov. 18, Greiss only appeared in six games through Jan. 9. The schedule eased considerably coming out of the All-Star break, but Greiss had a solid outing with 32 saves Feb. 12 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“After his last game, he deserved another start,” Blashill said. “I’d like to have them both going at a high level, I think that gives us our best chance to be a real good team down the stretch. The way he played the other night, he deserved to play again. I didn’t put him in right away in Minnesota because I wanted to give Alex that chance.”
Greiss is in the last year of his contract, and as such, he could be moved at the trade deadline. Greiss’ approach is, “It’s out of my control. We’ll see what happens.” But if he puts together a string of good starts over the next month, he may have more value as a trade asset. On the flip side, if the Wings are within reach of a playoff spot, general manager Steve Yzerman may well opt to keep Greiss, because the Wings don’t have another goaltender with significant NHL experience to team with Nedeljkovic.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.