SHARKS (4-0-0) at ISLANDERS (2-1-1)
TV: CSN-CA, MSG+
NEW YORK -- New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak will make his season debut against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at Barclays Center.
Halak missed the Islanders' first four games of the season after sustaining an upper-body injury during training camp. New York went 2-1-1 in his absence.
"We've waited now to make sure that he's 100 percent healthy and he gets his opportunity," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after an optional skate Saturday morning. "I think giving him these last two or three days has really put him over the top as far as his health goes and his conditioning as well."
Halak was one of the driving forces behind the Islanders' 101-point season in 2014-15, his first with New York. He was 38-17-4 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Capuano said Halak probably could have played Thursday when New York earned a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators, but Islanders brass wanted to be extra careful with its No. 1 goaltender.
"A big part of our team, no question," Capuano said. "He's one of the leaders of our team. He hasn't played in a while, but I know he's ready to go. He's a warrior back there. I think he probably would have liked to go the last game, but as a coach I don't want to chance that. I want to make sure that he's ready to go with the injury that he sustained. Now we feel he's ready to go."
The Sharks did not skate Saturday morning after their 2-1 shootout win at the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Goalie Alex Stalock will make his first start of the season after Martin Jones got his fourth straight victory. Stalock was 8-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA and a .902 save percentage last season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Nikolay Goldobin - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Tomas Hertl - Joel Ward
Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
Barclay Goodrow - Ben Smith - Mike Brown
Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon - Matt Tennyson
Injured: Logan Couture (leg), Joonas Donskoi (lower body)
Scratched: Dylan Demelo
Anders Lee - John Tavares - Ryan Strome
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Brock Nelson
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky
Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body)
Scratched: Brian Strait, Steve Bernier, Jean-Francois Berube
Status update: Hickey will also make his season debut after sustaining an upper-body injury during a preseason game against the Washington Capitals on Sept. 28. Hickey was originally expected to miss a month, but he healed faster than anticipated. "I can't wait," Hickey said. "It's like when you wait all summer long and you're excited for that first game, it's the same thing but extended even more. It's tough sitting and watching, but we've been doing well so I'm happy to jump in and be a part of it." Hickey will replace Brian Strait on the Islanders' third defensive pairing. … Boulton was placed on injured reserve Saturday morning.
Who's hot: Marleau leads the Sharks with four points (three goals, one assist) in as many games. Jones has four wins, a 0.49 goals-against average and a .982 save percentage. … Tavares leads New York with six points (three goals, three assists) in four games.