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Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak feels good after back-to-back wins

Johnny Boychuk #55 celebrates with Jaroslav Halak #41

Johnny Boychuk #55 celebrates with Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 during a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Alex Trautwig

The jarring sight of Islanders goaltending coach Mike Dunham taking the ice in full equipment as the second goaltender Monday, taking Jaroslav Halak's spot in goal, was lessened plenty by seeing Halak in the locker room after practice.

The Islanders have come to rely heavily on Halak, who allowed only one goal in each game of back-to-back wins over the Red Wings and Lightning on Friday and Saturday. So his maintenance day Monday before the Canadiens -- one of Halak's former clubs -- visit the Coliseum Tuesday night could have been cause for alarm.

Instead, Halak, who did some on-ice work with Dunham before practice, took some time to reminisce a bit about his days in Montreal as a ninth-round draft pick who pushed Carey Price aside to backstop the Canadiens' run to the 2010 Eastern Conference finals -- and what's changed for him.

"You get a little older and you don't worry about letting in a couple bad goals as much," said Halak, 29, who has won 15 of his last 17 starts. "It's more of a mental thing, I think. You have a bad game and you just let it go a little better."

The bad games have been few and far between since October, when Jack Capuano gave Chad Johnson starts over a healthy, rested Halak. Since losing to the Sharks, 3-1, on Nov. 1 in San Jose, Halak has allowed more than two goals in a game only three times in those 17 starts.

Friday and Saturday marked the first time Halak has started consecutive nights for the Islanders, who had gone with the prevailing statistical information and split their goaltenders in the first six back-to-backs of the season.

"The guys played really well in Detroit [on Friday], only 18 shots, so I felt good," Halak said. "We didn't give [Tampa Bay on Saturday] too much either. You can't do much without the whole team playing good defensively, and we've been doing that."

Notes & quotes: John Tavares practiced fully after needing stitches to close a gash on his ear from an errant shot by the Lightning's Radko Gudas near the end of Saturday's win.

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