RALEIGH, N.C. – Thomas Greiss was joking with some of his teammates before Sunday’s game about how much he enjoys playing at PNC Arena.
The goalie credits luck. Islanders coach Barry Trotz chalks it up to every player having certain buildings they perform better in and other buildings where they play poorly.
Whatever the reason, Greiss stifled the Hurricanes again, making 38 saves for his 100th career NHL victory in a 2-1 win at PNC Arena to give the Islanders their first two-game winning streak of the season.
“He was kind of joking about it before the game,” said defenseman Ryan Pulock, whose slap shot in the slot gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 14:35 of the second period as he scored his first goal of the season. “He likes to play here and he always puts up a big effort. He was very steady back there for us.”
The Islanders (5-4-1), who also won 6-1 at Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, conclude their three-game road trip on Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. That will surely be an emotional scene as it’s the Penguins’ first game since 11 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.
Greiss played for the Penguins in 2014-15 before joining the Islanders but there’s no guarantee he’ll start on Tuesday. Robin Lehner started the Islanders’ previous four games.
Greiss, 7-3-1 lifetime against the Hurricanes, also made 45 saves as the Islanders won their season-opener, 2-1, in overtime at Carolina on Oct. 4. He also stopped 45 shots in a 3-0 win at Carolina on Feb. 16.
Petr Mrazek made 18 saves for the Hurricanes (6-4-1), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
“Yes and no,” Greiss said when asked whether he liked facing so many shots. “It could go the other way, too, just a couple of bad bounces and something jumps in. It’s always a double-sided sword.”
The Hurricanes are a particularly swift skating squad that likes to go behind the crease to create wraparounds. But the Islanders, playing on back to back days, hung tough through a nail-biting third period while relying on the defensive structure Trotz has worked since Day 1 of training camp to implement.
“I think it starts at the top,” said right wing Josh Bailey, who had two assists. “I think our staff does a good job of preparing us for these situations. I think, as you get results, you start believing a little more.”
“I think our grit is starting to show a little bit,” added captain Anders Lee, who gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at the left post at 3:39 of the first period off Bailey’s feed. “Our penalty kill was huge tonight. Greiss was awesome. They put a lot of pressure on and they get a lot of shots. Not all of them are primary shots but they cause a lot of problems so we just kind of honed in and played some pretty strong defense.”
The Hurricanes went 0-for-3 on the power play but did get nine man-advantage shots.
“We want to make sure we’re on the right side of the puck,” Trotz said. “In the past, guys would get on the wrong side of the puck but we just can’t. This team is not built like maybe some of the other teams or my previous team (the Capitals). We have some good players but we don’t have as many of those game breakers so we’ve got to play a really a good team game.”
Teuvo Teravainen tied the game at 1-1 at 1:16 of the second period.