Igor Shesterkin has been the NHL’s best goalie by all forms of measurement this season. Thomas Greiss, meanwhile, has been the Detroit Red Wings’ second-best goalie this season.
But Thursday night, Greiss raised his game to be one key stop better than Shesterkin. Greiss made 37 saves to lead the Red Wings to a 3-2 shootout win against the New York Rangers.
Five takeaways from the contest at Madison Square Garden:
Best of Greiss
After going more than a month without playing, Greiss has won his last two starts while stopping 69 of 73 shots. That’s a .945 save percentage. He outdueled Igor Shesterkin. And that is no easy task this season. Shesterkin owned the NHL’s best save percentage of .928 coming into the game.
Greiss made a handful of memorable stops, including a pad stop against Filip Chytil on the Rangers’ final shootout attempt. He only gave up one goal in the shootout that lasted six players.
“He’s a goalie who’s ultimately better with more rest,” Red Wings goalie Jeff Blashill said. “When he gets run out there every other night it’s harder, especially now. His numbers say he’s better with more rest, but he is a guy who can handle these types of situations. He’s been around the league, he knows how to manage himself, how to get himself prepared. He’s a super-even keeled person, so there’s not lots of highs and lows. When he’s ready to go he goes in.”
Greiss played sharply against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 9
“I thought (after) his last game he deserved another start, 100 percent,” Blashill said. “I’d like to have them both going at a high level. That gives us our best chance to be a real good team down the stretch is to get both guys going.
Playing well against the Rangers is not unexpected. He is 6-0-1 against the Rangers in his career. He is 4-0 at Madison Square Garden.
If Greiss continues to play well, we could see the Red Wings rotate goalies more than they have for the past couple of months.
Year of the Larkin
In every game, Dylan Larkin seems to make a play, or multiple plays, to help this team. He scored his 26th goal of the season to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead in the second period. It came just 90 seconds after the Rangers tied the score.
But his best play was his relentless defensive effort. Rangers’ dynamic scorer Artemi Panarin looked like he would have a clean breakaway in the closing moments of overtime. Instead, a bone-tired Larkin caught him from behind and broke up his scoring chance. That got the game to the shootout where the Red Wings pulled out the win.
“He was gassed and found another gear,” Blashill said. “That’s just desire to win. He played a lot of minutes and based on where he was at, I was really surprised he was able to catch him. He has great, great compete.”
Dylan Larkin is the 3rd Red Wings player in the last 25 years with 25 goals and 25 assists in the team's first 50 games. The others:
Henrik Zetterberg in 2007-08 (28 G, 33 A)
Brendan Shanahan in 1996-97 (28 G, 26 A) pic.twitter.com/kkBQ5g7G4K
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 15, 2022
The Red Wings have won three of their last four, and are showing signs of pulling their game together. They have also scored 17 goals in their last four games. The Rangers are a quality team and they created plenty of chances. But the Red Wings found a way to hang on for the win.
“There’s a lot of things we can get better at, ” Blashill said. “But to come out on the road and find ways to win — we did that against a real good team in a great environment. So, we’ll take the two points and we’ll learn and get better.”
Players Step Up
Pius Suter hadn’t taken any shootout attempts this season and he beat Shesterkin with an exceptional shot. The Suter acquisition has paid off handsomely for the Red Wings. He has been productive in that No. 2 center position.
It’s hard to imagine where the Red Wings would be had Yzerman not landed him.
The Red Wings also got an important goal from defenseman Troy Stecher who has missed most of this season with a wrist injury. Stecher competes hard. There’s a chance that some team may want him as a depth defenseman before the trade deadline.
Bad Time for a Break
The Red Wings don’t play again until next Wednesday when they the Colorado Avalanche at home. With their offense clicking, at least with the top two lines, it would probably be better to face the Avs immediately.
“I can’t complain at all about our schedule,” Blashill said. “It’s not like we went three weeks without playing. That’s a really hard thing to do. So I’m fine with where we’re at. After the Colorado game we get going back a little more normal. These five days are the weird part of the schedule and hopefully we get enough practice and enough rest to be ready against a real good Colorado team.”