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Islanders' Halak to make season debut against Sharks

by Brian Compton

SHARKS (4-0-0) at ISLANDERS (2-1-1)


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

Alex Stalock

Martin Jones

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

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

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.


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