Penguins goalie Greiss saves day in win over Maple Leafs
TORONTO — The Maple Leafs were surging, and Air Canada Center was raucous.
Then, the calmest guy in the building stole the show.
Backup goalie Thomas Greiss, short on words but a big contributor so far for the Penguins, stopped 30 of 31 shots, including a sprawling paddle save in the final minutes, to send the Penguins home from a five-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.
His best save came during Toronto’s final power play. The Maple Leafs possessed the puck in Penguins’ territory for the final 1:45 of the power play, and with goalie Jonathan Bernier pulled, fired at will during a frantic stretch. A shot caromed off forward James van Riemsdyk and appeared headed into the net before Greiss lunged to his right and swept the puck away with his stick.
“You know,” Greiss said, “I saw the puck bouncing there. So I just kind of swatted it away.”
His teammates described Greiss’ save and his performance in more glowing terms.
“He was really, really solid all game,” right wing Craig Adams said. “I don’t think there’s any question that he was our best player tonight.”
Greiss was playing for only the third time all season. He is 2-0-1, with his three starts coming on the road against potent offenses in Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto. He has permitted just six goals in those three games.
“It can’t be easy for a goalie to not play very often and then just step in there against a good team like that,” left wing Nick Spaling said. “But he seems to pull it off every single time. Those saves he made at the end, those are game-changers.”
Right wing Pascal Dupuis scored both goals for the Penguins, who led 2-0 before Greiss allowed defenseman Cody Franson to score on what the goaltender described as “a knuckleball.”
The Penguins were shorthanded in the final two minutes because center Evgeni Malkin retaliated after Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf leveled right wing Patric Hornqvist with a hit that was deemed legal. Malkin and Phaneuf dropped the gloves.
“I don’t know if the puck was there or not when he hit him,” Spaling said. “But good for Geno to step in.”
Johnston hadn’t seen a replay of the hit but was displeased that the officials opted to give Toronto its sixth power play. The coach was pleased, however, with the effort from his penalty killers and goaltender.
“It was a real character win,” Johnston said.
Greiss’ heroics weren’t confined to the final two minutes. Earlier, he made a number of saves against the Toronto power play. Of Toronto’s 31 shots, 11 came with the man advantage.
Right wing Phil Kessel fired a team-high seven shots at Greiss. The goaltender stopped all of them, including a second-period breakaway.
“Greiss has been good for us right through camp and the games he’s played,” Johnston said. “He’s going to play more in November with the back-to-backs (on the schedule). Thomas is just so calm in the goal. He was under pressure but he held his ground so well.”
The Penguins enjoyed the better of five-on-five play, outshooting Toronto, 40-31, for the game and 34-19 in even strength situations.
Notes: Center Brandon Sutter left the game after being hit in the face by a slap shot, but after receiving some stitches to his left ear, was pronounced to be OK by Johnston. … Defenseman Olli Maatta skated on his own for 80 minutes Friday morning.