The Islanders learned that they’ll be without Jaroslav Halak for six weeks. The starting netminder injured himself with over four minutes left in regulation during the Isles’ 2-1 home win over the Pens last night at Barclays Center. After making a save, he went down and left the game with 4:22 remaining. The injury came on a night he made 31 saves for his 200th career win.
Steady backup Thomas Greiss relieved him stopping the remaining three Pens’ shots to preserve the victory. That included a last ditch try from Phil Kessel with six seconds to go. Sidney Crosby made a great pass across but the snake bit Kessel had his shot blocked by a diving Travis Hamonic and then padded away by Greiss as time wound down. Hamonic blocked seven shots.
With Halak sidelined the rest of the regular season and beyond, it’ll now fall on Greiss. The former Pen backup has been superb posting a 18-6-3 record with a 2.20 goals-against-average and league-leading .930 save percentage. He’ll get the nod against the Maple Leafs tonight. He hasn’t lost in regulation over his last eight starts. The only loss during that span came against the Caps in overtime 3-2 on Feb. 18.
Greiss will be counted on as the starter for most of the final 18 Islander games. They trail the second place Rangers by three with three games at hand including tonight’s visit at last overall Toronto. Right now, the classic rivals are locked into a potential 2/3 first round clash. They haven’t played each other in the postseason since ’94. With the Pens clinging to a wildcard five behind Brooklyn, it looks like the Battle Of New York will happen. If it does, it will be a hot ticket.
Backing up Greiss is Jean-Francois Berube. A former Kings’ fourth round pick, he’s appeared in three NHL games all with the Isles this season posting a 1-1-0 mark while allowing eight goals on 84 shots in 150 minutes.
”I got confidence if he does miss some time,” Capuano said of injured starter Halak. ”We got some quality goalies here so if we run into a situation, hopefully it’s not too long a period that he’s out, but we got confidence in the guys that we have here.”
It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.