Jaroslav Halak wasn't the only regular to make his season debut Saturday night. Thomas Hickey got into his first game after missing the opening four recovering from a fractured thumb suffered in the Islanders' preseason game against the Capitals on Sept. 28.
The original timetable for Hickey's return was four weeks. He made it back in less than three.
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"I've had some other injuries before and I've been lucky to heal quickly," he said. "I was pretty optimistic with this one."
Hickey has missed one game in his three Islanders seasons before this year, and that was because of illness last season. He missed only part of a game last season when he suffered a nasty skate cut to his chin.
So the fact that he was able to skate while wearing a cast on his thumb, not long after suffering the injury while blocking a shot, isn't a surprise. He played Saturday night with a protective sleeve over the thumb.
Brian Strait sat out to make room for Hickey. To make room on the 23-man roster for Hickey's return from injured reserve, Eric Boulton (lower body) went on IR just four days after signing a one-year deal.
Thomas Greiss, who started three of the Islanders' first four games in goal, got the full Saturday night off. J-F Berube backed up Halak for the game.
Sharks' familiar face
Peter DeBoer is off to a flying start in his new coaching gig with San Jose, a far sight better than when he exited the Devils' job last December.
DeBoer, a longtime friend of Jack Capuano's, had plenty of time to size up the Islanders in his three-plus seasons in New Jersey.
"They keep getting better every year," DeBoer said, "and John Tavares is one of the top five players in the world for me."
The Sharks were without Logan Couture, who suffered a fractured fibula during practice Thursday.