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Halak ties Islanders record with win against Predators

by David Satriano / NHL.com

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Jaroslav Halak tied the New York Islanders record with his 32nd win of the season, making 30 saves in a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

Halak, 32-12-0 in his first season with the Islanders, tied Billy Smith, Chris Osgood and Rick DiPietro.

It was a bounce-back performance for Halak, who allowed six goals in a 6-5 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.

"It's nice, obviously, but it will be nice to get some more, and hopefully I can help the guys and they can help me down the stretch to get more," Halak said.

The Islanders (39-19-1) scored one minute into the first period against the NHL-leading Predators (39-13-6).

Michael Grabner stole the puck from Nashville forward Mike Ribeiro and passed it to Frans Nielsen, who found Brian Strait in the slot. His snap shot eluded Pekka Rinne for his second goal of the season, first in 14 games.

"It's another game," Strait said. "From here on out, there is no easy game. Anytime we get two points, we want two points. It's a good measuring stick, but we just have to get back at it on Saturday (at the Washington Capitals)."

Nashville had won six games in a row. Defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, arrived to the Predators but were scratched.

Predators forward Eric Nystrom had a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski at 11:21 of the first period that left Grabovski on the ice for a few minutes. He went to the training room and did not return to the game with an upper-body injury. Capuano said he could be out for a while.

"It was a hockey check," Nystrom said of the play, which did not draw a penalty. "He had his head down and sometimes it's just a cause of positioning. He just picked up the puck and turned and I was just standing right there. That's how those plays happen sometimes. It was just a body check."

Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk scored on a slap shot at 10:10 of the first period. Grabner won the faceoff at the left circle and passed to defenseman Nick Leddy, who skated toward the net and passed cross-ice to Boychuk, who shot from just inside the blue line.

With Nashville forward Paul Gaustad off for roughing, New York scored a power-play goal to take a 3-0 lead. Leddy's shot from the right side was stopped by goalie Pekka Rinne, but the rebound came to John Tavares at the left of the crease and he scored his 29th of the season at 18:21.

Tavares has a goal in four straight games (five goals, four assists).

"We know we have a good hockey team and we know we can beat anyone in this league, and we expect to," Tavares said. "Obviously they have one of the best defensive groups over there …. and certainly a goalie who has been lights-out this year. Obviously we were able to get three in the first and that brings some confidence."

Predators rookie Filip Forsberg scored his 20th goal with 17 seconds remaining in the period off a rebound to make it 3-1.

James Neal got the Predators to within 3-2 at 16:38 of the second period off a one-timer at the right circle from Ribeiro.

"I think we reacted well," Halak said. "We stayed calm. … In the third, we just played really good hockey. I think they only got one or two shots until there was about a minute left in the game."

Leddy and Josh Bailey scored third-period goals 1:39 apart for the Islanders, who are 21-7-0 at home.

Rinne made 35 saves in his second regulation loss in his past 18 games (15-2-1).

"We've come back so many times this year, and you can't do it every single game," Nystrom said. "We battled back and made it 3-2, had an opportunity to make it fall our way, but they responded scoring the timely goal and kind of buried us. We can't be going down every single game and expecting a comeback. Tonight we couldn't make it happen."

The Predators had seven shots in the third period, and allowed 40 to the Islanders in the game.

"There were some holes tonight," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were some tough bounces. But we can't give up that much.

"We threw 27, 28 attempts at the net and there were some scoring chances in there as well. The goal at the end of the first period was I thought was real big to get us back in the game. We talked about winning the second period; we did to set it up for the third."

Halak was traded to the Islanders by the Washington Capitals in May, and he signed a four-year contract with New York later that month.

Smith won 32 games during the 1981-82 season; Osgood did in 2001-02, and DiPietro in 2006-07.

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