Thomas Greiss hadn’t seen any game action in nearly a month, but suddenly found himself between the pipes on the wrong end of a 3-0 game Wednesday afternoon.
Islanders starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov had allowed three consecutive goals on just 10 shots after posting back-to-back shutouts in the previous two games. He did last the 40 seconds he needed to surpass Billy Smith for the team’s longest playoff shutout streak, dating back to Game 4 against the Capitals, a little earlier in the game. But coach Barry Trotz opted to pull Varlamov, who has started all 11 games this postseason, immediately after the third goal with roughly five minutes left in the first period.
“I was looking for a spark,” Trotz said on a Zoom call following the 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers. “I thought we didn’t help [Varlamov] enough and at three goals, I think it was three on  shots, I was just looking for something different.
“Not his fault, we didn’t give him enough support there. We can share the blame as a group and we have to refocus for [Thursday].”
Both Islanders captain Anders Lee and second-line winger Josh Bailey said that the first-period deficit was a result of how the team played in front of Varlamov, rather than the performance of the Russian netminder.
“He’s bailed us out more times than we’ve probably bailed him out,” Bailey said.
Varlamov finished the game with seven saves on 10 shots. Greiss didn’t allow a goal for the remainder of regulation as the Islanders rallied back with three unanswered goals spanning the second and third periods. After making two saves early in OT, one on Travis Konecny and another on Sean Couturier, Greiss was screened in front as Philippe Myers skipped one through traffic to secure the win.
“I thought he was solid,” Trotz said of Greiss. “He made a couple key saves for us. He looked very comfortable, which is a great sign. It’s a positive for his attitude and his work ethic in our goaltending department and as we say, you have to be ready in the playoffs. He was definitely ready.”
With the quick turnaround — Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night — there’s a possibility Trotz could go with Greiss over Varlamov.
“I felt pretty good,” Greiss said. “Our goalie coaches have done a good job keeping me sharp and keeping me going in practice.”
Trotz deployed the same lineup he did in Game 1, while Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault made some adjustments to his.
Listed as a healthy scratches the previous game, Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk and defenseman Robert Hagg made their series debuts. Vigneault opted to sit Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton.