Greiss halts five-game skid for Isles
Goalie Makes Career-High 48 Saves in 4-2 Win Over Bruins
Thomas Greiss found himself in the middle of a shooting gallery Tuesday night in Boston.
Fortunately for the previously slumping Islanders, the 30-year-old netminder made a career-high 48 saves to halt the Brooklyn-based NHL squad’s five-game losing streak, backstopping New York to a much-needed 4-2 victory over the Bruins before a sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.
“They were shooting pucks from everywhere,” Greiss admitted after improving to 7-5 while lowering his goals-against average to 2.61 for the desperate Isles, who still find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with 30 points.
“You just go shot by shot, it keeps you in your rhythm,” added Greiss, who faced a career-high 50 shots by Boston, only two of which evaded him. “Special teams were huge tonight.”
The Isles’ previously struggling penalty-killing unit held Boston off the scoresheet on three man-advantage opportunities.
Anders Lee continued his recent scoring surge with an unassisted tally in the opening period, and provided what proved to be the power play clincher with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation to help New York end an 0-4-1 slide that was preceded by a 4-0-1 burst that many thought would thrust this team back into serious playoff contention.
But at the end of the third period, there was no doubt which player had been most responsible for the Isles’ return to the win column.
“[Greiss] played good and I thought we did a good job letting him see the puck,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said following his team’s first win since a 3-2 victory over St. Louis at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Dec. 8.
“He did the job for us on the penalty kill as well. So you know for me he was obviously a big key for our victory here tonight.”
Lee, who managed just one goal in his first 18 games, has been the NHL’s hottest goal scorer of late, filling the net with 11 tallies in his last 13 contests. The 26-year-old Minnesota native also picked up an assist on Thomas Hickey’s first-period goal, staking New York to an early 2-0 advantage.
Nikolay Kulemin made it 3-0 with the only goal in the second stanza, but two quick goals by Boston’s Andton Blidh and Dominic Moore in the third forced Capuano to call a timeout, hoping to stem the Bruins’ momentum.
Greiss made sure there would be no epic third-period collapse, a trademark of New York’s recent slump. He and the Isles’ shot-blocking defenseman stopped every Boston attempt thereafter before Lee gathered a rebound that slipped through the legs of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and deposited into the net for a 4-2 cushion.
“It’s really important. I mean that’s a good team over there and we knew we had to play a good road game tonight,” Lee said. “Although we fell a little bit in the third, we were able to hold strong and finish it up.”
They hope to do the same over the course of the final 50 games of this thus-far disappointing second season in our fair borough.
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The struggling Nets wrapped up a fruitless three-game road trip with Tuesday’s 116-104 loss in Toronto.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn’s leading scorer, sat in order to rest for a set of back-to-back games against Golden State here at Barclays Center on Thursday and Friday’s visit to defending NBA champion Cleveland.
Rondae-Hollis Jefferson scored 19 points and Jeremy Lin added 12 for the Nets (7-20), who suffered their 10th consecutive road loss, dropping to an ugly 1-13 away from Downtown Brooklyn overall.
“I was upset at halftime,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson admitted after watching the Raptors close the second quarter with a 17-3 run, opening a 64-46 advantage at the break. “I told the team our inability to get back on defense just wasn’t good enough.”
“They did whatever they wanted, killed us in transition, they got to the free throw line and they got offensive rebounds,” added Lin, who got his first start in four games since returning from the hamstring strain that forced him to miss 17 contests. “We didn’t play with heart tonight.”
The Nets do boast a respectable 6-7 home mark, which they hope to bolster here Thursday night against the defending Western Conference champions.
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On Remsen Street Tuesday, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s hoop squad continued its rough start to the campaign with a 61-54 loss to visiting Manhattan College at the Pope Center.
Sophomore guard Glenn Sanabria scored 14 points and reigning NEC Rookie of the Week Rasheem Dunn added 12 for the Terriers, who dropped to 2-10 in non-conference play and will play their final game before league action commences here Friday afternoon against St. Peter’s.
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