Matt Martin usually is willing to drop his gloves and rarely crosses the etiquette line that exists among enforcers. He delivered a handful of extra punches to the back of Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba’s head in a third-period bout Sunday, sending a not-so-subtle message that the rules must be followed, even in an 8-1 rout.
A period earlier, 6-3 Zack Kassian went looking for a fight and decided that Thomas Hickey, a 5-10 non-fighting defenseman, would be a good target. Brian Strait, another non-fighter, stepped in and took some lumps from Kassian, who earned 19 penalty minutes.
Martin also was upset that Gryba had a cross-check clash with John Tavares earlier in the game.
“I just felt like we needed to respond to that,” Martin said. “It’s an emotional game, obviously, and [Kassian] is trying to stir something up for his team. At that point in the game, I didn’t think I was at a big risk of changing the momentum.”
Martin was impressed that Strait jumped in to fight Kassian.
“Straiter’s a hell of a guy in this room and he stepped up for Hicks there,” Martin said. “That shows you something.”
Greiss sharp after layoff
Thomas Greiss has lived the backup goaltender’s life in his previous three NHL stops, so going 26 days between starts didn’t faze him.
“We had a nice little break for the All-Star Game. You clear your mind a little and come back strong,” Greiss said after making 30 saves in the rout. “You don’t want it all the time, but every so often, it’s good.”
Greiss was sharp in the opening 10 minutes, turning aside Taylor Hall off the rush early and denying former Islander Griffin Reinhart on a four-on-two late in the first period.
Despite making six fewer appearances, Greiss has 14 wins to Jaroslav Halak’s 12 and might get the first call with three games coming this week.
“It’s his work ethic,” Jack Capuano said of Greiss. “He’s mentally dialed in.”
Even during a 7-1 game after 40 minutes?
“At first you’re glad the team is scoring goals,” Greiss said. “When it gets to seven, eight, it gets kind of boring. You just hope you don’t get lit up, too.”