Even in a laugher, the Islanders couldn’t escape the injury bug again. Casey Cizikas left Saturday’s win against the Rangers in the second period with what appeared to be a hand injury and Doug Weight intimated that Cizikas could be out long term.
“It’s upper body and it’s not great,” Weight said after the 7-2 win. “You have to get some good looks at it, but he won’t be playing the next little while at least and we’ll hope for good news come Monday when he can get a real good look at it. We talk about great opportunity, and it is, but we’re going to have to find a way. Six or seven really big names, key pieces of our team. But that’s why you have depth. I was really impressed with our lineup today all the way through.”
In the second, Cizikas caught a stick follow-through from the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich on the hand and immediately went to the locker room. He lost 23 games to a broken finger last season but it wasn’t known if that injury factored into the one suffered Saturday.
Either way, Cizikas joins a long list of injured Islanders. Josh Bailey (lower body) missed his second straight game, as did Andrew Ladd (upper). Johnny Boychuk (lower) missed his seventh straight game. Nikolay Kulemin (shoulder) is still months away from returning and Calvin de Haan (shoulder) wouldn’t be back until late in the playoffs.
The Islanders head to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Monday and then host the Devils on Tuesday and the Bruins on Thursday. None of the injured forwards are likely to return before the end of next week so another call-up may be on deck.
Halak owns the Garden again
Jaroslav Halak faced plenty of shots, quite a few when the game was still within reach. But the veteran goaltender once again posted a memorable performance at Madison Square Garden, where he’s now won eight of his last 10 starts dating back to his time with the Canadiens in the 2008-09 season.
Halak’s 37 saves marked his ninth consecutive start facing at least 35 shots. He’s 4-4-1 in those nine and Saturday marked the third time he’s allowed two goals. With how the Islanders goaltending has been this season, that’s a marked improvement.
“When they were blitzing us, some zone time and you’re fighting and scratching he came up with big save after big save in a 4-5 minute span that defeated them a bit,” Weight said. “He was absolutely in charge of his game. Having him back there, playing the way he did, it’s exciting.”
Halak’s save percentage rose to .906, a just below the league average. Better for him was the Isles scoring 11 goals the past two games after scoring just seven in his prior five starts.
“It’s always nice when a team can score in front of you,” Halak said. “That second period was a big period for us. It seemed like everything was going in. Those are the worst games for goalies, because the team is usually starting to relax and the other team gets some chances. I think for the most part we did a good job.”