NEW YORK -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano remembers coaching against goaltender Thomas Greiss seven years ago in the American Hockey League. He knew he was good then.
"I was in Bridgeport, he was in Worcester. I don't know how many wins he had that year (30), but it was that year where it was with (Jonathan) Quick and (Jonathan) Bernier and (Tuukka) Rask, and he was just one of those guys that was down there as well," Capuano said. "None of these guys take me as a surprise. We knew he was a good goaltender. Has he exceeded expectations? I don't know. But he's working hard, that I can tell you. When you work hard, good things happen."
Good things happen for the Islanders seemingly each time Capuano turns to Greiss, who made 28 saves to win his fifth straight game, a 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center on Monday.
Greiss signed a two-year contract to be Jaroslav Halak's backup last July, but there's little doubt his play is forcing Capuano's hand. With the NHL-leading Washington Capitals looming Thursday, it's difficult to envision Greiss not getting the start. Halak has allowed at least three goals in four of his past five starts, while Greiss has allowed two or fewer in each game during his personal win streak.
Despite his consistent play, Greiss isn't ready to assume he'll get the nod Thursday.
"You can't always think that," Greiss said. "Jaro's played very well too. But we've both been playing well when we get in there."
Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson each had a goal and an assist and Josh Bailey and Marek Zidlicky scored for New York (30-19-6), which has won four in a row at home.
Video: DET@NYI: Tavares sets up Strome with a beautiful pass
The Islanders got off to a sluggish start but managed to get out of the first period in a scoreless tie. They were fortunate that Greiss, as usual, was on top of his game.
The goaltending New York has received from Greiss this season, and Halak for the most part, is refreshing for Bailey, the Islanders' first-round pick in 2008 who has seen this franchise in the toughest of times.
"I can't think of a time it's been better," Bailey said. "It's a huge boost for the team. Any game you go into, you feel like you've got a goalie that's gonna give you a chance. For the morale of the team going into any game, that's half the battle.
"I think [Greiss] has been a pleasant surprise for us, and me personally. I don't think we've seen him a whole lot. You really didn't know what to expect. I'm sure guys that have played with him in the past aren't surprised. The more we get to know of him and see him, he's been great for us. He's a great guy."
Pavel Datsyuk scored and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for Detroit (29-19-9). Howard, who hasn't won since Dec. 3, has allowed at least three goals in each of his past eight games. The loss ended the Red Wings' five-game point streak (4-0-1).
Video: DET@NYI: Datsyuk beats Greiss to cut the deficit
"I thought Jimmy played good," coach Jeff Blashill said. "I try to judge process. You could say, 'Well, four goals. Not good enough.' We all want more saves, including him, but I thought he played good. He gave us a chance to win.
"What Jimmy's decided is he's just gonna keep working. He's gonna keep his head up and keep working and keep getting better and make sure that he puts himself in the best possible position, and I thought he did that. I thought he looked extremely prepared. It just didn't go his way tonight, but you've got to keep grinding."
Nelson broke a scoreless tie at 8:24 of the second period when he redirected Strome's feed from the right point past Howard for his 100th NHL point. Bailey extended the lead with a power-play goal 6:33 later.
Zidlicky, who had gone 16 games without a goal, ended his drought at 16:03 of the second. Cal Clutterbuck's slap shot from the slot banked off the end boards in front, where Zidlicky backhanded it past Howard to make it 3-0.
Greiss held the Red Wings off the scoreboard early in the third period during a power play, when he stretched across the crease and got his right pad on Xavier Ouellet's one-timer from point-blank range.
Video: DET@NYI: Greiss kicks out his pad to deny Ouellet
"I didn't really know much about him. When he came into training camp we were like, 'This guy is pretty good,'" Strome said. "Pretty laid-back personality and he's pretty even keel every day. It pays off for him. He never gets too high or low or down on himself. He comes with a smile and works hard and the results have been great for him this year."
Datsyuk ruined Greiss' bid for a shutout with 10:29 remaining. Greiss got enough of Gustav Nyquist's wrist shot to keep it out, but Datsyuk collected the rebound near the right post and scored to make it 3-1, extending his point streak to six games.
"I think they came out a little faster than we did today," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "But we worked ourselves into the game. They're a tough team to play against when they get the lead and they parked their butts in front of the goalie and it's tough to get pucks through and get any quality chances."
Strome restored New York's three-goal lead at 12:14 of the third period. John Tavares carried the puck into the Red Wings' zone and made a nifty backhand feed into the slot, where Strome beat Howard with a wrist shot. Tavares extended his point streak to six games with the assist.
Greiss took care of the rest and earned his 16th win in 25 games this season. He's never played 26 games in a season in the NHL. That could change as early as Thursday.
"With the amount of games that we have here coming up this month and next month, all three goalies could get a real good opportunity here to play a lot of hockey," said Capuano, who still has Jean-Francois Berube in the mix as well. "The one thing you want to make sure is that we're fresh. Playing every other day, there's a lot of hockey. We want to utilize and make sure we do the right things with our players."
The Islanders played without defenseman Calvin de Haan in the third period because of a lower-body injury. Capuano said de Haan will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
Video: Isles erupt with three goals in 2nd, down Red Wings