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Balanced attack, Halak lift Islanders past Sharks

by Brian Compton

NEW YORK -- Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen each had a goal and an assist for the New York Islanders in a 6-3 win against the San Jose Sharks at Barclays Center on Saturday.

Johnny Boychuk, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders, who have won three in a row (3-1-1), all in their new Brooklyn home.

"Thus far, it's been good," Bailey said. "It's still early obviously. There's a long way to go, but it's a good start for sure."

New York goalie Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves in his season debut; he missed the first four games because of an upper-body injury. Defenseman Thomas Hickey also played for the first time after sustaining an upper-body injury in a preseason game Sept. 28.

"Both of them did a great job tonight," said Islanders captain John Tavares, who had two assists and has eight points (three goals, five assists). "They're heavily relied upon for a reason. Even though they missed some time, you can see they didn't miss a beat out there."

Joe Pavelski, Nikolay Goldobin and Joel Ward scored for the Sharks, who lost for the first time (4-1-0). Alex Stalock allowed five goals on 32 shots in his season debut; starter Martin Jones played in a 2-1 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

Pavelski opened the scoring Saturday with his second goal of the season 13:04 into the game. After Pavelski won a faceoff against Nielsen, defenseman Justin Braun took a wrist shot from the right point that Pavelski redirected past Halak to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano challenged the call, but replays determined Halak was not interfered with and New York forfeited its timeout.

New York's Mikhail Grabovski was awarded a penalty shot with 2:13 left in the first period after being hooked on a breakaway by defenseman Brenden Dillon. But Stalock got his right pad on Grabovski's forehand.

Boychuk tied it 1-1 21 seconds into the second period, beating Stalock with a one-timer off the right-wing boards. Goldobin put San Jose back in front 20 seconds later, converting a feed from Joe Thornton to make it 2-1.

New York tied it again when Lee scored a power-play goal at 2:27 of the second period. With Sharks defenseman Brent Burns in the box for tripping, Ryan Strome shot from the left circle and missed the net. Lee collected the puck and stuffed it past Stalock, who was without his mask. It was Lee's second goal of the season.

"Okposo took that one-timer up high and buckles came undone," Stalock said. "I just tried getting it off because I can't see when it falls on me. The ruling is when there's a scoring chance, they let it go. He let it go, and it ended up going off me and in."

Lee said, "I didn't see it till the replay. Thankfully we got the call. That's kind of all that matters."

The Sharks regained the lead when Ward scored at 9:20 of the period. After Boychuk couldn't keep the puck in at San Jose's blue line, Matt Nieto gained control and started a 2-on-1. Nieto eluded defenseman Nick Leddy and fed Ward for a one-timer to make it 3-2.

New York tied it a third time on Bailey's second goal of the season at 13:58 of the period. A turnover by Burns allowed Bailey to feed Okposo in the slot, and he redirected Okposo's shot.

Okposo gave the Islanders their first lead of the game, 4-3, with 15:42 remaining. After his shot from between the circles was denied by Stalock, Okposo got control of the rebound behind the net, powered his way around Dillon, and stuffed a shot past Stalock for his second goal of the season.

"You're going to need it and you're going to continue to need it," Capuano said of getting contributions from several forwards. "When you go on the road, they're going to get matched up against [Tavares]. But we've got secondary scoring, we started getting our defense more involved in the offense, we'll get back to playing the hockey that we played last year when we were rolling pretty good."

Nelson put the Islanders up 5-3 at 11:10 of the third period when he took a pass from Grabovski and put a wrist shot from between the circles past Stalock.

"It's a game we didn't finish," Pavelski said.

Nielsen scored an empty-net goal at 17:02. It was his first goal of the season and 100th of his NHL career.

Halak, making his first start since Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals, saved all seven shots he faced in the third period.

"This time of the year, you don't want to rush [back]," Halak said. "It's still early in the season and you have to look at the long run. It's a long season. I want to be healthy for the rest of the year, so it was good to take my time. They gave me the time. Obviously now I'm back and hopefully I'll be here for the rest of the year."

San Jose played without defenseman Paul Martin, who sustained a lower-body injury Friday. Forward Ben Smith left in the second period after he was hit in the head by a shot.


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