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Halak wins 30th, Islanders defeat Maple Leafs

by David Satriano /

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for his 30th win of the season, Anders Lee scored twice, and the New York Islanders defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

Halak is two wins shy of the Islanders record for victories in a season, held by Billy Smith, Chris Osgood and Rick DiPietro.

"I'm just trying to help the guys win the games," Halak said. "A win is a win. [Thirty wins is] nice, but it's a team effort always. It's great, but we still have plenty of hockey left. Hopefully I can add some more."

Halak is 30-11-0 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in his first season with the Islanders.

"When you work hard, good things happen," coach Jack Capuano said. "He has come to the rink every day with that purpose, and the results are showing."

The Islanders (36-18-1) maintained first place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-4. New York is 19-6-0 at Nassau Coliseum.

The Maple Leafs (23-29-4) got off to a slow start and lost their 12th straight road game (0-11-1). They were outshot 18-8 in the first period, and the Islanders scored two goals on their first five shots.

"It's bewildering to me we have these poor starts," Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek said. "Only when we get our dander up do we seem to respond. We showed character coming back, but we shouldn't need a bad start to get it going."

A little more than a minute into the first period, Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson made an errant pass that Lee stole in the Toronto zone. His shot hit goalie Jonathan Bernier's right pad but trickled past the goal line at 1:11.

Casey Cizikas gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead at 4:03 on a wrist shot off a rebound after Colin McDonald's shot was stopped by Bernier.

Toronto controlled play in the second period from the faceoff, with the first eight shots of the period and two goals.

Forward Richard Panik scored his ninth on a rebound at 1:32 to make it 2-1. Trevor Smith tied the game 2-2 at 4:09. After exiting the penalty box, he skated up ice and knocked a cross-ice pass from Panik out of midair past Halak for his second of the season in his 38th game.

Lee gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead at 12:02 of the second period. Defenseman Travis Hamonic's shot from the right point was stopped by Bernier, but the rebound came to Lee to the left of the net, and his shot trickled under Bernier's pads.

"A couple of bounces tonight," said Lee, who has 18 goals. "A couple of plays benefitted from five guys out there playing well."

The Islanders outshot the Maple Leafs 41-34, 15-14 in the third period when Toronto could not score to tie.

"This is the way you win hockey games this time of year and in the playoffs," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "For us, it's good to see us handle these games a lot better than we did last year."

New York was 2-for-2 on the penalty kill; it had allowed a power-play goal in nine of its past 11 games.

"It's better for sure," Tavares said. "We need to be better in that area. … It's something we need to work on and build confidence and try to make it a strength of ours."

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