Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss makes the game winning save against Rangers...

Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss makes the game winning save against Rangers center Filip Chytil during the shootout at Madison Square Garden on Feb 17. Credit: Brad Penner

Neither Barry Trotz nor Mathew Barzal could suppress a smile when talking about ex-Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, who played his first game against his former team since leaving via free agency when the Red Wings visited UBS Arena on Thursday night.

“Greisser was a great teammate,” Barzal said. “He was a really fun guy. Funny when we played soccer. Always had a little funny comment. Loved having him after practice. He took a lot of shots. He took a lot of breakaways for the guys. Very unorthodox in that setting so it was really fun having to come up with new stuff and try to beat him different ways.”

Greiss played a memorable five seasons for the Islanders from 2015-20 and his 193 regular-season games are the sixth most in franchise history. He backstopped the Islanders to their first playoff series win since 1993 as his Game 5 penalty shot save on the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov in the first overtime led to a six-game win in the first-round matchup.

He and Robin Lehner shared the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2019 as the Islanders allowed the fewest goals in Trotz’s first season as the Islanders coach.

Greiss signed a two-year, $7.2 million deal with the Red Wings in 2020 as the Islanders made roster space for the highly-touted Ilya Sorokin. The Islanders and Red Wings did not play last season and Alex Nedeljkovic started in the teams’ two games in Detroit this season.

“The great thing about Thomas is he’s an awesome guy,” Trotz said. “There was nothing that seemed to faze him. He just went with the flow. He had terrific years for us here. He was a big part of our success. He was just a good teammate. Low maintenance and an interesting guy when you got to talk to him.”

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