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Backup goalie Thomas Greiss is off to good start with Islanders

Thomas Greiss of the Islanders makes a first

Thomas Greiss of the Islanders makes a first period save under pressure from Colin Wilson of the Nashville Predators at Barclays Center on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jaroslav Halak continued his steady, slow return from injury on Friday, but Jack Capuano likely won't feel pressured to put his starting goaltender back in right away, not with the way Thomas Greiss has been performing.

Greiss played for the third time this season on Thursday night and had his third straight strong outing, turning aside 44 shots in the Islanders' 4-3 victory over the Predators.

Greiss, 29, never made more than 25 appearances in any of his six previous NHL seasons, but he has begun this season with his new team by playing more than capably as the temporary No. 1.

"It's always good to get in a rhythm, play a few games," he said. "It's even good to face a lot of shots like I did [on Thursday night]. Gets you right into the game."

Greiss' strong positioning and movements have been his strong suit. He doesn't get out of position much and turned most of Nashville's long-range shots toward the corners and out of danger.

Halak is no slouch either, of course. He set a franchise record with 38 victories last season and was the best Islander on the ice for much of the team's seven-game series loss to Washington in the playoffs.

But goaltending is a results business and also a hot-hand business. Halak arrived in camp with this upper-body injury nagging at him, got in only two periods' worth of work in the preseason and began practicing regularly only last week. So there seems little reason to thrust him back into the starter's role just yet.

The Islanders host the Sharks Saturday night, their fifth straight game against a tough Western Conference opponent to open this season. San Jose brings a 4-0-0 record into Barclays Center after beating the Devils, 2-1, in a shootout Friday night in Newark. They were without center Logan Couture, who suffered a broken fibula in practice on Thursday in New Jersey and is out at least a month.

It's almost certain that Greiss will be in net against the organization that selected him in the third round of the 2004 NHL Draft.

"He's given us a chance every time he's been in there," Capuano said. "That's all you can ask of your goalie."

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Thomas Hickey (fractured thumb) again practiced fully and could be available to return by early next week. The Islanders would need to take a player off the roster to make room for Hickey, and everyone currently on the roster requires waivers.


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