The Islanders' Micheal Haley became a fan favorite with his physical, aggressive style last season. In fact, sometimes he was too aggressive, as in his first game after being called up at the tail end of the season, when he was part of the mayhem against the Penguins on Feb. 11.

He had a brief stay with the Islanders during the first half of this season before they chose to go with a less pugilistic roster. Matt Martin filled the hitting winger's role while Haley and Trevor Gillies plied their trade with Bridgeport.

But with Martin and Casey Cizikas out with the flu, Haley is back, and he's playing much better than he was in November and December.

"Obviously, being sent down wasn't what I was hoping for," said Haley, 25, whose last game before being sent down earlier this season was at the Garden, when he injured his hand in a fight with Stu Bickel. He fought Bickel on each player's first shift Sunday night.

"It took a little while to get back, but those aren't my decisions," said Haley, who had four goals in three games with the Sound Tigers before his recall Saturday and had a breakaway chance against the Devils on Saturday night. "I want to score goals, but in the NHL, I know my role, and it's not necessarily as a goal-scorer."

Pleased with Nilsson

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Anders Nilsson let in two late goals in a 14-second span in Saturday night's stunning loss, but Jack Capuano isn't unhappy with his rookie goaltender.

Said Capuano, "I saw what he said, that he's got to make those saves, but let's face it, he made a couple big saves last night . . . I'm real happy with the way he's played."

Al Montoya (upper body) has been practicing of late, so Nilsson might go back to Bridgeport to get in more work before the AHL playoffs.